Miscellaneous language questions

For the discussion of language mechanics, grammar, vocabulary, trends, and other such linguistic topics, in english and other languages.

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Derek » Tue May 23, 2017 11:09 pm UTC

Soupspoon wrote:I don't 'like' it, but it opens up the possibility of personhood extending so that a non-human person (that's a bit negative-sounding, but an "orangutan person", a "dolphin person", a "Nexus 6 person", a "horta person", etc would be considered neutral, outside(?) of latent anthropocemntric prejudice) is as valid a person as a human one.

You've forgotten the most relevant ones: "Legal person" and "corporate person".

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Quizatzhaderac » Wed May 24, 2017 4:25 pm UTC

I think you mean "natural person" versus "legal person".

A natural person is one single human. A legal/ juridical /fictitious/artificial person is anything that's a person under the law, but not a natural person.
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Mega85 » Sat May 27, 2017 6:06 pm UTC

Why is onomatopoeia different in different languages? While English speakers say that ducks go "quack", German speakers say that frogs go "quak". Strange. Why the disagreement of what animals sound like?

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby poxic » Sat May 27, 2017 6:14 pm UTC

Tradition, partly. When I listen carefully to a duck, it sounds to me more like "waat" with a really sore throat. If I walk around making "waat" noises, though, no one will understand that I'm trying to sound like a duck. Because everyone knows that ducks go quack.
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Eebster the Great » Sun May 28, 2017 5:47 am UTC

To this day I am completely baffled by "bow wow." What about that onomatopoeia resembles any sound a dog has ever made?

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby heuristically_alone » Tue May 30, 2017 8:31 pm UTC

Eebster the Great wrote:To this day I am completely baffled by "bow wow." What about that onomatopoeia resembles any sound a dog has ever made?


Have you been listening to Brian Regan?
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Aiwendil » Tue May 30, 2017 11:52 pm UTC

Why is onomatopoeia different in different languages? While English speakers say that ducks go "quack", German speakers say that frogs go "quak". Strange. Why the disagreement of what animals sound like?


I think the fundamental issue is that alphabets designed by and for humans are not very good at phonetically transcribing the sounds made by other animals. Any written representation is therefore going to have some arbitrariness, and those arbitrary decisions (which then get entrenched in the traditional spelling) will be made differently by different people.

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby ThirdParty » Thu Jun 01, 2017 5:26 am UTC

Mega85 wrote:Why is onomatopoeia different in different languages? While English speakers say that ducks go "quack", German speakers say that frogs go "quak". Strange. Why the disagreement of what animals sound like?
Part of what's going on in this particular example is that English has a lot of words in it (about twice as many as most languages do). German-speakers use the word "quak" for both the frog sound and the duck sound, whereas English-speakers use "croak" for the frog sound and "quack" for the duck sound.

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Eebster the Great » Thu Jun 01, 2017 8:44 am UTC

Can I get an answer about "bow wow"? Am I reading the onomatopoeia wrong? Am I hanging around the wrong dogs?

It's honestly like saying the onomatopoeia for snake sounds is BRAWK BRAWK. It just isn't. That's not how they sound.

EDIT: No, I have never seen Brian Regan.

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby HES » Thu Jun 01, 2017 10:16 am UTC

Think less barking, more that low talky grumble dogs sometimes to. Bowowowowow.
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Zohar » Thu Jun 01, 2017 12:47 pm UTC

To me "bow wow" can easily sound like a dog, I can make an impression of a dog using that sound (not saying it's very good though).
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Jun 01, 2017 1:00 pm UTC

I have no difficulty hearing "how how" in a dog's bark, and consonants in animal sound onomatopoeia tend to be fairly arbitrary. It's not exact but it's nothing like saying a snake says "meow".
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Angua » Thu Jun 01, 2017 2:07 pm UTC

I always thought bow wow was a high pitched yappy dog.

Like a chihuahua or something.
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Copper Bezel » Thu Jun 01, 2017 4:02 pm UTC

Oh, wow, yeah, checking out a YouTube video, it really does sound like stop consonants and glides in there. Sort of a "wow-wowp".
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Eebster the Great » Fri Jun 02, 2017 2:55 am UTC

Maybe I just have less experience with those kinds of dogs. Either way, I still can't hear it in that video. I think it's really the B that gets me; it just seems so out of place. Also, the "ow" does fit for some dog noises I guess, but the u, ʊ ("woof"), æ ("yap"), ɪ ("yip"), and even ɑr ("bark," "arf") all seem better, and I feel like when five other vowels are better fits, this one must be pretty bad.

That said, I have known some dogs to howl, and I can sort of see how "bow wow" could be an onomatopoeia for that, being similar to the word "howl" but appropriately containing two syllables. Maybe that's what it's supposed to be?

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Mega85 » Fri Jun 09, 2017 12:00 am UTC

Does the term "soft drink" for a drink like a Coke, a Pepsi, a Sprite or a Mountain Dew sound kind of formal to you? It does to me. In Australia, apparently it is however an ordinary everyday term.

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby flicky1991 » Fri Jun 09, 2017 5:24 am UTC

I'd consider it pretty normal, not formal at all (although I'd be more likely to say "fizzy drink").
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Soupspoon » Fri Jun 09, 2017 7:58 am UTC

I'd say here it's a catch-all for something not alcoholic ("hard liquor", not that we'd ever use that term) or any 'brew' (tea/coffee, maybe also hot chocolate/cocoa, notthing to do with alcoholic brewing unless Irish Coffee/with a tot of rum/etc) or an actual juice* (fresh or manufacturer-reconstituted).

By ubiquity - "soft drink" probably now mostly refer to fizzy pops (carbonated soft drinks, in full but rare usage) but also to the diluted cordials (e.g. orange squash) that it originally referred to, before lemonades (not the US-type famously front-yard-trestle-table-fundraising stuff, home-made sugared-water-with-real-lemons-infusing-inna-jug-with-optional-ice, but the carbonated clear citric 'industrial' stuff), orangades, colas, etc came into play and dominated the catering market with the ease of the cans or handy-sized plastic bottles, no mixing required.

But it used to be so simpler, just from lack of option. Soft Drink or Hot Drink or (where served) Beer. Which was likely to be "a pint of best" (bitter, served at ambient temperature), not any lager.(probably also at ambient temperature, hence why often likened to horse-piss).


* - Or maybe it does include juices, but only because of the current continuum of sparkling and non-sparkling waters running through the full gammut to unadulterated and not-from-concentrate juices via all kinds of flavoured-(fizzy-)water intermediaries like your Britviks and J2Os...

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Eebster the Great » Fri Jun 09, 2017 6:42 pm UTC

Around here, "soft drink" is a neutral and slightly formal term that sidesteps the issue of whether to call sweetened, carbonated drinks soda, pop, coke, soda pop, or even tonic. The term "soft drink" is probably slightly broader than the others, since it would include things like root beer and ginger ale, but it's pretty similar.

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Copper Bezel » Fri Jun 09, 2017 7:26 pm UTC

Calling soda a soft drink sounds like calling a bathroom a restroom to me. Just not something you do inside someone's house, it's a word that only exists in public and commercial spaces.
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Soupspoon » Fri Jun 09, 2017 10:19 pm UTC

If I hear "soda", meanwhile, I primarily (in a drinks context) think of an unflavoured/oddly-flavoured fizzy water.

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Aiwendil » Sat Jun 10, 2017 4:51 pm UTC

Copper Bezel wrote:Calling soda a soft drink sounds like calling a bathroom a restroom to me. Just not something you do inside someone's house, it's a word that only exists in public and commercial spaces.


This is my feeling about the word as well.

Eebster the Great wrote:Around here, "soft drink" is a neutral and slightly formal term that sidesteps the issue of whether to call sweetened, carbonated drinks soda, pop, coke, soda pop, or even tonic. The term "soft drink" is probably slightly broader than the others, since it would include things like root beer and ginger ale, but it's pretty similar.


For me, "soda" (or "pop") already includes root beer and ginger ale - is this not the case for some?

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Mega85 » Sat Jun 10, 2017 6:46 pm UTC

Would you say these mean different things? "I cannot win" and "I can not win"? I'd say they do.

"I cannot win" (it's impossible for me to win)

"I can not win" (it's possible for me not to win)

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby gmalivuk » Sat Jun 10, 2017 9:42 pm UTC

Just writing with the space doesn't necessarily change the meaning, but it would be clear from pronunciation or even just italicizing "not".
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby eSOANEM » Sat Jun 10, 2017 10:46 pm UTC

For me I think the space implies the necessary change in intonation (although italicisation would exaggerate it) and would understand both as Mega85 does
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby heuristically_alone » Sat Jun 10, 2017 11:52 pm UTC

Would the translation of a word from different language be considered a synonym of that word?
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Mega85 » Sun Jun 11, 2017 12:28 am UTC

Are "one" and "uno" synonyms? "meat" and "carne"? Are "nein" and "yes" antonyms? Are "see" and "si" (Spanish for "yes") homonyms?

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Soupspoon » Sun Jun 11, 2017 9:20 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:Just writing with the space doesn't necessarily change the meaning, but it would be clear from pronunciation or even just italicizing "not".

Pronunciation/stressing, I agree with.

But "I can not win" is actually quite close to "I cannot win" as an expression of inability. Whereas "I can not win" is the better statement of (willingly negative) ability. But inflections beyond my markup ability can further subtly twist each version to the other, maybe also some dialect issues.

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby gmalivuk » Sun Jun 11, 2017 1:44 pm UTC

Yeah, I guess the pronunciation difference is in tone more than stress, which italics don't convey.

I can...not win.

That may do it less ambiguously.
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby ThirdParty » Mon Jun 12, 2017 10:11 pm UTC

Nah, I think it's stress. There's basically five possibilities:

"I cannot win" = The speaker is not able to win.
"I can not win" = The speaker is able to lose, but isn't eager to do so.
"I cannot win" = The speaker is not able to win, and is frustrated about that.
"I can not win" = The speaker is not able to win, even though his listener disagrees.
"I can not win" = The speaker is able to lose, but not necessarily able to win.

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby heuristically_alone » Mon Jun 12, 2017 10:36 pm UTC

I would change that last one.

"I can not win": The speaker is not able to win, but not necessarily able to lose.
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby measure » Tue Jun 13, 2017 5:02 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:Yeah, I guess the pronunciation difference is in tone more than stress, which italics don't convey.

I can...not win.

That may do it less ambiguously.

If I was trying to minimize ambiguity, I would go with "I can avoid winning". If I had to use those particular four words, I would probably use parentheses or air-parentheses around (not win).

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Eebster the Great » Wed Jun 14, 2017 4:41 am UTC

The sentence "I could not win but still not lose" makes sense, and I think it suggests the intended meaning more than the possible alternative interpretation of "neither able to win nor lose."

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Aiwendil » Wed Jun 14, 2017 1:00 pm UTC

ThirdParty wrote:"I can not win" = The speaker is not able to win, even though his listener disagrees.


This one could also be used in a context where it clearly means "the speaker is able to lose", though (and I think this is what gmalivuk meant):

"What can possibly happen other than you winning?"
"I can . . . not win."

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Eebster the Great » Wed Jun 14, 2017 11:02 pm UTC

Imagine a cricket game in the second innings with the batting team very far behind in runs. I don't know much about cricket, but my understanding is that if the time limit is reached before every player is put out, the game ends in a draw. So a conversation could go something like this:

"Why are you still worried? Your team is 250 runs ahead. There is no way they can lose."
"Sure, they won't lose, but they might not win either."
"I think even a tie is out of the question at this point."
"I didn't say that they could tie, just that they could not win. They could draw."

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby flicky1991 » Thu Jun 15, 2017 5:33 am UTC

Maybe this is a digression, but aren't "tie" and "draw" synonymous? I don't understand the distinction the last line seems to be making.
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Soupspoon » Thu Jun 15, 2017 6:58 am UTC

flicky1991 wrote:Maybe this is a digression, but aren't "tie" and "draw" synonymous? I don't understand the distinction the last line seems to be making.

Read it and weep...

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby flicky1991 » Thu Jun 15, 2017 11:44 am UTC

Wild.
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Eebster the Great » Fri Jun 16, 2017 3:05 am UTC

"Tie" usually means equal scores, while "draw" usually means an indecisive result. Ties in many games do result in draws, but not always. For instance, in Blackjack, the dealer wins on a tie ("push"), and in tournaments, ties are often broken in any of a variety of ways (e.g. if two teams are tied in wins, the tie may be broken by head-to-head record). Similarly, draws are often due to ties, but not always. In chess, a draw can be obtained by several methods including stalemate, none of which involve any kind of tie.

In cricket, a tie does effectively result in a draw, but I guess they don't call it that to distinguish between the two for statistical purposes. Ties are much rarer than draws.

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Soupspoon » Fri Jun 16, 2017 12:31 pm UTC

On the other hand, I don't mind people in my office seeing my, often psychedelically patterned, ties. But if they can see my draws (of whatever style) I suppose have to just hope that it's just a dream that I've left my trousers at home. ;)


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