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The schmozzle over English language

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Simon Winchester's "Professor and the Madman" features the remarkable origins of the Oxford English Dictionary.  It is the offspring of amity among those in the literary community, including the criminal-asylum inmate Dr Minor, an unlikely oddity in Broadmoor.

OED UK-based senior editor Fiona McPherson updates us on their project-in-progress, that 300,000 new words have found a permanent home in the 'compendium' since year 2000.  Even Homer Simpson's popularization of 'Doh!' is given a kindly nod to be included.

And so, many who still debate on whether 'labour' is more correct than 'labor' if 'manoeuvre' is superior to 'maneuver' are unwittingly treading the shallows of mediocrity.  If they were condoned, Bernard Shaw would have been off the mark in suggesting how unhinged our English system of alphabet is.  'Fish' could have looked like 'ghoti', the derivative of the component of 'rough' (gh for f), 'women' (o for e or i) and 'nation' (ti for sh).

Phonics pundits have been wrong.  It is clear a student versed in phonics, in and of itself, cannot by extension be an infallible speller.  To the uninitiated, 'rough' will be 'ruff' as will 'enough' be 'enuff.' Beware of heard, a dreadul word; that looks like beard and sounds like bird, warns a doggeral.

Language instinct in the fields of cognitive neuroscience, psycholinguistics and evolutionary psychology is more pervasive than most have the wherewithals to master.  Its idea is a paean to the breadth of natural potential of language evolution and progress than to its push for artificial re-constitution.  It is for the academic elitists .

Alphabet Words are symbols - to rehash, capturing the essence of mental abstractions as flows from conceptualization and intellectualization, not to mention DNA and some grey matter.  The conventions of the English language, for instance, dictate that a cup is a cup is a cup for its given function which might well have been symbolized by kup or puk.

No one thinks in pure English or Gaelic.  If thoughts were the function of words, no new words would ever be coined.  We think, then we decide what words would best serve the nature, quality and the intent of our thoughts.  New words may be needed.

What makes the English language unique is the abundantly colorful wealth of its vocabulary even though part of its words system is of foreign imports: macho, schadenfreude, macaroni, typhoon, amok and orang utan - Spanish, German, Italian, Chinese and Malay.

Word usage and grammar is not contingent upon knowledge and learned language skills alone.  Hydrocephalic children as schizophrenics and aphasics have been cited for their incredibly developed grammatical proficiency and accuracy.  How did that happen?  For this, consult with my convincing mentor, Pinker by name.

By: Sam, the Tiger


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anon

anon

Grumpy, you are welcome. If you like Pinker, I read one of his about ten years ago, "Words and Rules". You might enjoy it, too. It's great that you like learning. You mention that pleasure in many of your posts. Good for you. :)
anon
21st Nov 10 13:47

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grumpyoldwoman

grumpyoldwoman

anon, thank you for the kind offer of interpretation; however I prefer to increase my knowledge by looking up any references I don't know myself.

Sam's gripe has already led me into finding an excellent article by Stephen Pinker; now I am about to embark upon an article by Erasmus which mentions the Cordiliers. I love learning!

Sam, I would love to see San Francisco one day; the world of writers like Dashiell Hammett, Clark Ashton Smith and Armistead Maupin. The grumpyoldman may be persuaded to take me one day when we have retired!
grumpyoldwoman
21st Nov 10 11:28

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anon

anon

"I'm as vague as they come. Too bad, which is why I stay away from WG. Damn if you say something, damn if you don't. I'm sorry I offended some of you."

Don't worry. I explained to them what your gripe was about. I used pareidolic interpretation.
If you have anything else to say, I'll translate it for them you...and them.
anon
21st Nov 10 10:36

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Sam, the Tiger

Sam, the Tiger

Mallory - kudos and well said. My point too - but perhaps there are superior readers and writers than I or we. Did we ever think sometimes that tace in Latin is a candle (elusive to some), and indeed so if one cannot hold one's own to speak, read and write the language before the Cordiliers.

I'm as vague as they come. Too bad, which is why I stay away from WG. Damn if you say something, damn if you don't. I'm sorry I offended some of you.

I'm opening me (or myself to some) to a barrage of criticisms, due or not.
Sam, the Tiger
21st Nov 10 03:59

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Sam, the Tiger

Sam, the Tiger

Grump - you are a lady after my own heart, so sensible and so naturally cultured in your approaches with reason and sanity.

Back to American English - please, rationalize the rhetoric! Tell us in plain, good Brit English or Celtic English or whatever; but state your ratio.

PS - Sorry that I have not visited WG since September. By the way, I'm in Frisco on the way to LA next week. American English serves me pretty well for this Canuck. Join me, Grump.
Sam, the Tiger
21st Nov 10 03:46

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grumpyoldwoman

grumpyoldwoman

"as long as people understand you I don't see why there should be a standardised way of communicating"

mardi gras; the problem is, if there is no standardised way, people will NOT understand you! Yes the language will evolve; but if spelling and punctuation are not reasonably standardised much confusion will result.
grumpyoldwoman
5th Nov 10 16:09

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mardi gras the candyman can

mardi gras the candyman can

the english language like any language is constantly evolving with time. as long as people understand you I don't see why there should be a standardised way of communicating.
mardi gras the candyman can
5th Nov 10 15:31

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anon

anon

"It shouldn't be and it's highly annoying. Like I said, there should be no "American English". It's English full stop."

You should be grateful that their language is not "American".
anon
20th Sep 10 03:38

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anon

anon

"I shall comment on a gripe to do with the English language if I believe it to be poorly written. Like this one. (How ironic)."

Fine. Whether it's well written or not is highly subjective. Let your declared beliefs inform the world.
anon
20th Sep 10 03:36

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alice

alice

It shouldn't be and it's highly annoying. Like I said, there should be no "American English". It's English full stop.
alice
20th Sep 10 01:11

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yet another anon

yet another anon

Most spell checkers are set to American English which is why it picked up on colourful in the same way it picks up recognise and wants you to spell it recognize.

The writer of this gripe is Canadian.
yet another anon
20th Sep 10 00:50

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alice

alice

anon - it's just an irrelevant gripe...a load of paragraphs not really flowing into each other, and becoming jumbled up. I'm taking it the Griper is American from the spelling of the word "colourful", which bizarrely has just been highlighted by my spell-checker.

I shall comment on a gripe to do with the English language if I believe it to be poorly written. Like this one. (How ironic).
alice
20th Sep 10 00:13

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anon

anon

Mallory, if you skim and move on that's fine by me. But you said you had read and reread the article and still couldn't divine the author's meaning. I think you are obviously adequately educated and therefore you must agree that the dismissing/trashing an article having only skimmed it is a precarious act. If you have an interest in English beyond communication use, dismissing the article in question would also be quite surprising. So, if you aren't interested in the subject, and aren't prepared to read the article either, what would make you feel that anything at all you have to say is newsworthy? It's no more meaningful than a dog barking at a passing car.
anon
16th Sep 10 15:30

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Mallory

Mallory

@anon - Please don't attempt to patronise me, I am an intelligent woman and more than capable of understanding correct English - your comment about The Sun is misguided and shows you to be a judgemental ignoramus.

Furthermore, I was not 'whinging'; I merely wished to point out that the gripe is a series of statements about the English language, rather than a crystal clear complaint about it. I can fully understand why some readers have had trouble finding the point. Having read it through a fourth and fifth time, I can just about see how you come to the conclusion as to what it's actually griping about, but please remember that most people on here do not read, but skim. If the point isn't immediately obvious, they naturally draw (possibly incorrect) conclusions.

Another point I should have made about your comment to Alice: It is rudeness in the extreme to tell someone that their comment in irrelevant when in fact she was merely giving her opinion on the gripe - as per the aim of the site and, indeed, the original poster (one would assume). Who are you, or anyone else, to decide which comments are relevant or not? Especially considering the fact that others agree with her; that alone should imply relevancy.

Got it now?
Mallory
16th Sep 10 12:33

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alice

alice

GL - no they just think it's cool innit. Didn't pay enough attention in English classes, that's if they even bothered to attend in the first place.
alice
15th Sep 10 23:50

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