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The Language (and travel) Thread


Carol the Dabbler

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4 minutes ago, besleybean said:

Well I mentioned faucet for you, which I think is good...

I've heard people claim that "faucet" is not actually a synonym for tap (which we also use, though around here it's mostly in the term "tap water").  Next time, I'll ask them what the heck they think "faucet" does mean!  We also say "spigot," but that seems to be mostly for outdoor faucet-type things, like the ones you hook up your garden hose to.

13 minutes ago, besleybean said:

Oh I didn't tell you about my 'bleachers' debate. 

I had never heard that word used over here, until one of my school kids used it the other day,

I still think it is a very odd word...but I do like that it means something specific.

Well, "bleachers" could refer to things that are used for bleaching something -- though I will admit I've never heard it used that way.  I agree it's an odd term, so I looked it up, and apparently it originated because over time the wood becomes bleached by the sun.

That search also brought up the question "why do Americans refer to grandstands as bleachers?"  The short answer to that is, we don't.  Bleachers are a very rudimentary structure: a framework that supports planks used as benches, with each row a bit higher than the one in front of it.

A grandstand, on the other hand truly is "grander."  There's usually a roof or canopy, there are individual seats (usually comfortably-shaped with backs), and the supporting structure is usually concrete.  When you buy a grandstand ticket, you're usually assigned a specific seat.

32 minutes ago, besleybean said:

Bangs, I may have mentioned before, is the one I just think is really hilarious.

And I think "fringe" (used in the same sense)sounds kinda silly (because "fringe" is the stuff around the edge of an afghan or a small rug).

Apparently "bangs" are so-called because they were originally (and often still are) cut straight across, like a horse's bangtail (from being "cut bang-off").  As far as I'm aware, horses now have bobtails, and the human hairstyle is the only remaining use of the word in the US.  I have, however, heard Canadians use the term "bang" in a more general adverbial sense (similar to how it's used in "bang-off"), but darned if I can think of an example offhand (and the internet is being no help today).

 

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Spigot is good, too!

I had assumed on the origin of the bleachers, except are they not used indoors, too?!

Yeah, but that's the point...it's what a fringe looks like.

Guns go 'bang', not human hair!  

Hairy edge of a rug or hairly edge of a human head, it's all a fringe...ie it edges something.

Where the feck is the connection with the sound of a gun?!

Yeah but to cut 'bang' off is just a colloquilism...why not just straight off? Or in fact, 'straight'.

I literally just make a gun shape with my fingers and say'bang', on every occasion!

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Again sorry to answer my own post, but I suddenly thought of some of the English-Scots issues too. 

In English we have three things: plaid, plaits and pleats.

The former is obviously tartan.

The middle one, is another name for hair pigtails.

The latter is a crease in a skirt.

But Scots call the pig tails 'pleats' and it drives me scatty!

They  have a funny one, too:

'pose', which they use to mean hide.

Again, every time a Scot uses that word, I want to form some kind of body shape like I am vouguing or indeed adopting a model's stance!

 

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56 minutes ago, besleybean said:

I had assumed on the origin of the bleachers, except are they not used indoors, too?!

Oh, for sure!  Maybe they were first used outdoors?  Dunno, that was well before my time.

57 minutes ago, besleybean said:

Hairy edge of a rug or hairly edge of a human head, it's all a fringe...ie it edges something.

Where the feck is the connection with the sound of a gun?!

"Bang" in that sense may come from the hair (or horse tail) being cut straight (like a bullet) and more or less suddenly (i.e., without any fancy business).  So it might originally have been "cut 'bang!' off" (like a gunshot).  But that's just my guess.  As I mentioned, we no longer use the word in a general sense.  Any Canadians here?

9 minutes ago, besleybean said:

Scots call the pig tails 'pleats' and it drives me scatty!

They  have a funny one, too: 'pose', which they use to mean hide.

I guess "pleats" sounds similar to "plaits"?  Especially with a Scottish accent?  Hmm, are you sure they're not actually saying "plaits" but pronouncing it differently?  OK, Wikipedia says "plait" and "pleat" were originally the same word, meaning "fold."

I can kinda see "pose" in that sense -- you have to be very careful how you stand (or sit, kneel, whatever), and not move.

But don't worry -- Scots probably think you talk pretty funny too!

 

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They are right, in some cases!

I mean I realised I was pluralising the verb ' to house'.

Whereas Scots actually pluralise the noun 'house'.

This is hard to type...

I could explain better to you on an audio!

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1 minute ago, besleybean said:

I could explain better to you on an audio!

Maybe if you gave written examples of the two uses?  (I have no idea what you're talking about!)

 

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I mean when I pluralise  the noun 'house', I say 'howzez', which actually sounds like the verb 'to house'.

Whereas Scots pronounces it more properly:

house-ess.

If we all just said, 'homes', I guess it would be easier. Ha!

Another positive for Scots, is that I say they are the only people in GB who actually pronounce 'Shire' properly.

I am from Yorkshire, but we say 'Yorkshur'.

Southerners say 'Yorksheer'.

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1 hour ago, besleybean said:

... when I pluralise  the noun 'house', I say 'howzez', which actually sounds like the verb 'to house'.

Ah, I understand now.  I say it the same way, as I believe most Americans do.  Does seem like I've heard house-ess somewhere, though.

 

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On 10/20/2022 at 11:46 PM, besleybean said:

However by the same token:

although 'Fall' is beautifully poetic.

'Autumn' is more precise.

That's interesting, I always thought 'autumn' sounded more poetic.  'Fall' is such an abrupt, plain word, and far less evocative of the season in my opinion.  Maybe because I also associate it with its other meanings.

 

On 10/30/2022 at 8:49 AM, besleybean said:

Two weeks?  We haver a perfectly good term, use it: fortnight.

Two times?  Again, the word is 'twice'.

Don't forget 'thrice' and 'sennight'!  Although I suppose 'week' is just as good for the latter.

 

On 10/30/2022 at 3:05 PM, besleybean said:

Another positive for Scots, is that I say they are the only people in GB who actually pronounce 'Shire' properly.

I am from Yorkshire, but we say 'Yorkshur'.

Southerners say 'Yorksheer'.

Other people in GB say 'sheer'?  Strange, I've never heard that from a Brit or an American.  Most people say 'shur', or if they get it wrong, they mispronounce it as 'shyer', like where the Hobbits live in 'The Lord of the Rings', lol.

 

On 10/30/2022 at 4:24 PM, Carol the Dabbler said:

Ah, I understand now.  I say it the same way, as I believe most Americans do.  Does seem like I've heard house-ess somewhere, though.

I don't say 'howzez' or 'house-ess', I say 'house-ezz', as do most people around me.

 

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8 hours ago, Artemis said:

I always thought 'autumn' sounded more poetic.

Me too -- maybe because "fall" is the normal word around here.  We don't hear "autumn" very often, so it's kind of exotic.

8 hours ago, Artemis said:

I don't say 'howzez' or 'house-ess', I say 'house-ezz', as do most people around me.

Now I'm not sure *how* I pronounce that word!  It's definitely *not* "house-ess" though.  Probably "houze-ezz."  But it's not a word that I have any reason to say very often, and I don't necessarily pay attention to how I say it when I do -- just whatever comes out.

I've spent about half my life living in other parts of the country (ranging from Boston to Los Angeles), so my pronunciation is kind of eclectic.

 

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  • 3 months later...
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  • 3 months later...

Oxymoron of the day:  Grain-Free Cereal

This new type of product now has a lot of the shelf space that our grocery store used to devote to organic and/or natural cold cereals.  It's advertised as a healthier substitute for sugary "kiddie cereal" like Froot Loops.  While it's certainly not what I'd call a natural product, most of its ingredients do seem to be fairly innocuous, and it allows people who can't eat grain to have something crunchy again for breakfast.

And what else could they call it?

 

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  • 2 months later...

I hadn't actually thought much about it before, but it suddenly occurred to me a while back that roughly half of what I'd been calling lady bugs all my life were actually gentleman bugs!

I suspect, though, that the "lady" part of "lady bug" and "lady bird" refers not to the beetle's supposed sex, but rather to the Virgin Mary, who seems to have some connection with those beetles in Scandinavian and Germanic countries as well.  Added: the internet seems to agree.  Apparently aphids had been destroying crops, and after the farmer prayed to Mary for help, the little spotted beetles came and ate the aphids.

 

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Actually it's the aphid larvae that eat leaves, and the ladybug larvae that eat the aphid larvae.  I've seen it happen on my nasturtiums -- though not quite as soon as I was hoping.

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  • 1 month later...

To all of you in the UK:

1. Are you familiar with the use of the term "john" to mean "toilet"?

2. If so, do you regard it as normal UK slang, or do you consider it strictly an Americanism?

 

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  • 6 months later...

I looked up the word "lobster" to see where it came from.  (Didn't figure it was actually from a tennis term meaning a player who hits the ball in a high arc, but had no ideas otherwise.)  Turns out it's via the Old English word lopustre, from the Latin word "locusta" from which we also get our word "locust" (as in grasshopper).  Apparently the Ancient Romans used the same word for several critters with exoskeletons.

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

I learned the word nincompoop today because someone behaved like that and I want to find good word to describe him.

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