1662: "Jack and Jill"

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Re: 1662: "Jack and Jill"

Postby rmsgrey » Thu Mar 31, 2016 2:20 pm UTC

Copper Bezel wrote:
orthogon wrote:Also you can't put be into the passive voice, can you? You'd have to say "* Everest is been the tallest mountain in the world". Maybe that's for the same reason.

Hmm, interesting. I'm also trying to figure out what that would actually be meant to mean; something like "Angry was been by Stan" is equally broken-sounding but does have a parsable meaning. "Is been" sounds like a contradiction in tense, because I don't think "been" can act as a participle.


Is being, was being.

Everest is being the tallest mountain in the world.
Stan was being angry

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Re: 1662: "Jack and Jill"

Postby Copper Bezel » Thu Mar 31, 2016 2:25 pm UTC

Right, no, I know, but the past participle specifically.
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Re: 1662: "Jack and Jill"

Postby orthogon » Thu Mar 31, 2016 3:04 pm UTC

Copper Bezel wrote:
Also you can't put be into the passive voice, can you? You'd have to say "* Everest is been the tallest mountain in the world". Maybe that's for the same reason.

Hmm, interesting. I'm also trying to figure out what that would actually be meant to mean; something like "Angry was been by Stan" is equally broken-sounding but does have a parsable meaning, and yet "is been" sounds like a contradiction in tense, which makes me wonder if the basic point is that the verb of being does not have a participle form in the first place.

You kindly gave me the benefit of the doubt, but really that was a mistake: I should have said "* Everest is been by the tallest mountain in the world". My structure would only work for a bi-transitive verb: "Topographers consider Everest the tallest mountain in the world / Everest is considered the tallest mountain in the world". But I'm not totally sure whether bi-transitive verbs are really a thing.
xtifr wrote:... and orthogon merely sounds undecided.

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Re: 1662: "Jack and Jill"

Postby Copper Bezel » Thu Mar 31, 2016 3:18 pm UTC

Oh! Yeah, okay, that makes sense now. So nothing to do with tenses at all. I don't know how I missed that that was the difference.
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Re: 1662: "Jack and Jill"

Postby DanD » Thu Mar 31, 2016 5:43 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:
Lazy Tommy wrote:To put it another way, if nobody ever made these kinds of "mistakes," Italian would still be Latin.

As would French, Spanish, Portuguese, etc, and half of western Europe and the vast majority of the Americas (and more) would all be able to communicate with each other in their shared native language as easily as Canadians do with Australians, which would be awesome. The present lack of that potential awesomeness is due to mistakes like this.


And we would be speaking German.

I have a real hard time with a prescriptivist approach to a language that was invented so that Norman lords could make time with Anglo-Saxon peasants. I'm pretty sure there isn't a language family in the world that English hasn't borrowed at least a word or two.

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Re: 1662: "Jack and Jill"

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu Mar 31, 2016 6:57 pm UTC

DanD wrote:And we would be speaking German.

Not modern Standard German. We and the Germans and Dutch and South Africans and so on would be speaking West Germanic. And that would be awesome.

Taken back far enough, most of the world would be speaking some dialect of the same Indo-European language. And that would be awesome. And the vast majority of historical texts, at least from Western history (Greek, Latin, etc), would be intelligible to a modern reader without translation. And that would be awesome.

Imagine a future where someone from California can't understand someone from Florida. That would suck wouldn't it? Sure it doesn't look likely to happen given the interconnectedness of today's world and shaking the threat of that happening sounds hyperbolically doom-and-gloomy. But tell someone in the old Roman Empire that someday the speech of Rome itself and the Iberian territories would be mutually unintelligible with both each other and with the language they spoke in their day (and wrote down for future generations, who would no longer be able to read it) and it would sound the same... but that happened. And that's sad.
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Re: 1662: "Jack and Jill"

Postby ucim » Thu Mar 31, 2016 7:10 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:...But tell someone in the old Roman Empire that someday the speech of Rome itself and the Iberian territories would be mutually unintelligible [...]... but that happened. And that's sad.
I'm not sure I agree. You make good points, but because of the evolution of language, there are now hundreds of different ways of communicating, hundreds of different ways of thinking (as language does influence thought), and hundreds of different words, phrases, dialects, and other unique ways of expressing ideas, thoughts, and situations with nuance that comes very locally from each of hundreds of different cultures. And that's awesome!

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Re: 1662: "Jack and Jill"

Postby Lazy Tommy » Thu Mar 31, 2016 9:06 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:
DanD wrote:And we would be speaking German.

Not modern Standard German. We and the Germans and Dutch and South Africans and so on would be speaking West Germanic. And that would be awesome.

Taken back far enough, most of the world would be speaking some dialect of the same Indo-European language.

You're making the assumption there that the Indo-European family isn't descended from anything, but there's no proof of that. Linguists identify different language families, instead of creating a grand unified family tree, because at some point there isn't enough evidence to make educated guesses about what came before, say, Proto-Indo-European (or what PIE even sounded like). Maybe each language family represents a separate instance of people inventing a new language, maybe not.

Not very long ago, I read somewhere (can't remember where, exactly), that there is an interesting correlation between how far people travelled from our origin in Southern Africa to where they eventually migrated to, and the use of vowels vs. consonants. The idea is that once people settle, changes to their languages tend to be slow and follow fairly rigid rules, while people who move into previously uninhabited territory have much greater freedom to allow their language to evolve (smaller groups, fewer old people with their conservative attitudes).

The result is that apparently the world's oldest language families, Southern African languages like !Kung that are heavily dominated by a huge assortment of consonants, gradually evolved, en route to distant lands, to vowel-heavy languages like those of the Pacific islands and Chinese. Supposedly the correlation is quite significant.

If all of that is true, and people had managed to prevent languages from fragmenting, we'd al be speaking something like !Kung. I'm personally glad things didn't turn out that way; it seems to me that the Germanic languages that I grew up with require a lot less effort to pronounce.

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Re: 1662: "Jack and Jill"

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu Mar 31, 2016 9:13 pm UTC

Lazy Tommy wrote:
Pfhorrest wrote:Taken back far enough, most of the world would be speaking some dialect of the same Indo-European language.

You're making the assumption there that the Indo-European family isn't descended from anything

No I'm not, just that if the accumulations of errors had been stemmed at some early enough time, the Indo-European languages, plural, would still just be the Indo-European language, singular. That doesn't rule out the possibility that if it had been stemmed at some even earlier time, the languages of whatever superfamily IE may be a part of would all be a single language too, but we don't know enough concrete about that era for me to make any specific claims about it.
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Re: 1662: "Jack and Jill"

Postby rmsgrey » Thu Mar 31, 2016 9:55 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:
DanD wrote:And we would be speaking German.

Not modern Standard German. We and the Germans and Dutch and South Africans and so on would be speaking West Germanic. And that would be awesome.

Taken back far enough, most of the world would be speaking some dialect of the same Indo-European language. And that would be awesome. And the vast majority of historical texts, at least from Western history (Greek, Latin, etc), would be intelligible to a modern reader without translation. And that would be awesome.

Imagine a future where someone from California can't understand someone from Florida. That would suck wouldn't it? Sure it doesn't look likely to happen given the interconnectedness of today's world and shaking the threat of that happening sounds hyperbolically doom-and-gloomy. But tell someone in the old Roman Empire that someday the speech of Rome itself and the Iberian territories would be mutually unintelligible with both each other and with the language they spoke in their day (and wrote down for future generations, who would no longer be able to read it) and it would sound the same... but that happened. And that's sad.


It's also terrible that we have words for this thing we're using to communicate and all the things connected to it (which wouldn't exist if the language hadn't evolved as a result).

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Re: 1662: "Jack and Jill"

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu Mar 31, 2016 10:25 pm UTC

rmsgrey wrote:It's also terrible that we have words for this thing we're using to communicate and all the things connected to it (which wouldn't exist if the language hadn't evolved as a result).

Inventing new words for new things is not an error (it's not misusing existing words or anything like that), so the kind of linguistic conservatism I'm concerned with would not have prevented it.
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Re: 1662: "Jack and Jill"

Postby jewish_scientist » Thu Mar 31, 2016 10:33 pm UTC

Maybe the well was dug by an army for their fort, which is on top of a hill because the first lesson taught in Military Tactics 101 is 'take the high ground'.
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Re: 1662: "Jack and Jill"

Postby Lazy Tommy » Fri Apr 01, 2016 12:27 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:
rmsgrey wrote:It's also terrible that we have words for this thing we're using to communicate and all the things connected to it (which wouldn't exist if the language hadn't evolved as a result).

Inventing new words for new things is not an error (it's not misusing existing words or anything like that), so the kind of linguistic conservatism I'm concerned with would not have prevented it.

I think there's also the case to be made that change in a language can be beneficial even if you ignore the need to add new words for new inventions or new concepts every now and then.

When I mentioned in my earlier post that, without language drift, Italian would still be Latin, what I actually meant to point out (but failed to make explicit), is that I think that, in changing into Italian, Latin actually got better, both in the sense of easier to master and easier to use.

Of course it's unfortunate that the process of improving Latin also caused it to fragment; that the improvements didn't all go in the same direction everywhere.

I do think that languages getting better is a real phenomenon, though, and that the fragmentation is something we just have to live with. The alternative is worse.

The good news is that people can always adopt a new language. It has happened before, e.g. when Latin displaced the previously used languages of Southern Europe, and it may happen again, if at some point English goes from being the lingua Franca of the Western world to being the lingua Franca of the whole world; it is conceivable that it might become the global language at some point. (I don't see that happening during my lifetime, but I see no reason why it wouldn't happen eventually. I also see no other candidate that would be more likely than English to become the global language.)

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Re: 1662: "Jack and Jill"

Postby Copper Bezel » Fri Apr 01, 2016 1:35 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:Imagine a future where someone from California can't understand someone from Florida. That would suck wouldn't it?

Not particularly, no? I mean, you're exactly right that some degree of language isolation is necessary for two languages to diverge from one another toward mutual incomprehensibility and things, but the idea that this is a problem in the first place is actually pretty silly.
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Re: 1662: "Jack and Jill"

Postby Soupspoon » Fri Apr 01, 2016 3:24 am UTC

Lazy Tommy wrote:it is conceivable that [English] might become the global language at some point.
It is already a global language.

Not the language that the whole world speaks as a first language. Not the language that the whole world speaks as one of their acquired languages. Not even the language that features as a (official, unofficial, circumstantial) second language to every country/sub-group that is not already natively anglophonic. But it has reach. For various historic reasons. (Mainly, but not exclusively, by the direct/tangential influence of the British Empire, and then of the American influence that rose to fill a gap and touched parts of the world that even the British may not have previously done.)

French might well have started the same (and French colonies remain French, even yet, in ways that British territories generally have not remained so British), but until somewhere like Quebec extends its influence/territories, it has been unable to add an 'American boost' to its claims. With the Acadamie Francais (with the right spelling, and at least one missing cedilla when it comes to accent marks) it has generally tried to rebuff 'Anglicisation' and other watering-down, but I'm not sure the lack of that hurt English any as it passed around the world (especially as we're happy to call it English even with annoying Americanizations, etc, added into it).

German... didn't quite get the same start, but (together with the close cousin of the Netherlands and at least half of Belgium) did still create a close family of "more Gemanic than English" languages into various additional non-European countries. Spain did have a good start, as we were saying (with Portugal sneaking in a few claimants of its own), but those locales seem to me to be more insular. (The countries that use them might talk amongst themselves, but not press the issue beyond their own boundaries... "Los Malvinas" aside...)


I've been a bit Eurocentric, so far, so, wide afield: Other candidates might include those languages carried into far territories by way of religious observance (Arabic and Hebrew and Latin, for starters, although their respective religions have subtly different attitudes to how much their language is used in everyday life, outside of their 'home' countries'), but rather than a language of convenience these seem mostly to be languages that one (who is not already in that culture) learns if they want to specifically communicate with those who 'natively' speak it, rather than to get to talk to other new (non-native!) speakers of the lingo.

In the exact opposite camp, there's something like Esperanto. Potentially everyone's second language (except for the offspring of a few rather more dedicated parents, who might have taken things a bit further than most people would). At one point it was assumed that it might well become the "world language", but I'm not so sure any more. It's not dead or dying, but it's also not really represented by much more than a murmuring around the world.

An interesting one to look out for, I think, is a form of Chinese (i.e. Cantonese, probably, but maybe official Mandarin might win out, depending on the exact circumstances). Already "on the books" as having a truly large number of local speakers (by it being an astoundingly large 'locality'), there's been a large number of historical emigrants to 'the west'... but with official Chinese forays into the wider world (a kind of latter-day Empire-building, by stealth or otherwise, after centuries of self-isolationism during (and perhaps because of!) the European trend towards expansionism), especially in a form of "economic colonialism", making links probably in line with the aspiraton to be a proven superpower... and if that gets locals in African states to learn more Chinese than the chinese administrators/etc learn any local language/alternate non-local Lingua Franca...

(But I'm not good at foreign languages. It it isn't English, I'm at a severe disadvantage, so All Hail English As Lingua Franca! Not through laziness, but lack of ability/affinity. What I have is a smattering of schoolboy French (poor exam results, hardly used, very rusty), some German (learnt by necessity whilst working in Berlin, then mostly forgotten again) and a smattering of various Celtic languages (mostly picked up from roadsigns) that only slightly exceeds my expertise in Klingon...)

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Re: 1662: "Jack and Jill"

Postby gmalivuk » Fri Apr 01, 2016 3:45 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:
rmsgrey wrote:It's also terrible that we have words for this thing we're using to communicate and all the things connected to it (which wouldn't exist if the language hadn't evolved as a result).

Inventing new words for new things is not an error (it's not misusing existing words or anything like that), so the kind of linguistic conservatism I'm concerned with would not have prevented it.
But using "computer" to mean a device and not a person presumably *is* a "mistake" in your version of linguistics, no?

You're basically saying microevolution of languages is fine but macroevolution is right out, while making the same mistake Creationists do in failing to understand that they are the same thing, just considered over different time frames.

The only way to maintain the kind of monolanguage you're talking about is for any new coinage to automatically and immediately be taken up by all users of the language, regardless of how useful the rest of them find it. Otherwise the different collections of new words used in different places will grow and differences will accumulate and language splits will happen.

I mean, just look at the Time thread for an example of how coining new words can affect communication, and then imagine if the community of OTTers were more extensive and more insular and continued for a generation or two. Bam! New language, without the need for anyone to ever make one single "mistake".
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Re: 1662: "Jack and Jill"

Postby ps.02 » Fri Apr 01, 2016 5:23 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:Taken back far enough, most of the world would be speaking some dialect of the same Indo-European language.

Wait, what? What percentage is "most of the world" to you? I guess you must be counting people whose second or third language might be English or Spanish? Because if you really just mean one's native tongue, well, for an awful lot of people that'll be Sinic, Dravidian, Semitic, Niger-Congo, Austronesian ... and lots of other families whose names I don't know offhand. They add up. Turns out, e.g., there are actually quite a few non-Slavic and non-Turkic people in east Asia.

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Re: 1662: "Jack and Jill"

Postby Pfhorrest » Fri Apr 01, 2016 5:50 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:But using "computer" to mean a device and not a person presumably *is* a "mistake" in your version of linguistics, no?

No, since both of them compute. Just like a "cleaner" can be a person, a machine, a liquid in a spray bottle, anything that cleans. (And people are a subset of things, so "anyone" is included within "anything".)

You're basically saying microevolution of languages is fine but macroevolution is right out

No I'm not. I'm saying extension is fine, but changes that break backward-compatibility are not. If ancient peoples wouldn't understand modern peoples because modern peoples are talking about things that didn't exist in ancient times, that's not a problem, any more than me not understanding the jargon of a field I don't specialize in is a problem. But if modern peoples can't understand ancient peoples (and different modern peoples speaking different offshoots of the same ancient language likewise can't understand each other), not because those ancient peoples are talking about things that don't exist anymore, but just because the accumulation of errors in the language over time means we're now incompetent in the language that was (some of us in different ways and so incompetent with each other's language too), then that's a problem, and the fault lies with us (or rather is spread thinly over the many generations between them and us). Just like if, to follow the specialty-jargon analogy above, specialists in one field became unable to converse with ordinary non-specialists using the ordinary non-jargon language because they had changed the meaning of the existing language for their special use and forgotten the ordinary meaning, rather than extending the language to cover their new needs and keeping the language as it was for the things it was already used for.

The only way to maintain the kind of monolanguage you're talking about is for any new coinage to automatically and immediately be taken up by all users of the language, regardless of how useful the rest of them find it. Otherwise the different collections of new words used in different places will grow and differences will accumulate and language splits will happen.

But only on new areas that the original language did not have the vocabulary to discuss. Which is slightly regrettable but completely inevitable; there isn't any fight to fight there, like there is on the points of my contention. One community may call their new machines operating by logic gates to perform mathematics "computers", another that invented them independently and so coined a different word may call them "calculators", a third still may call them "rationators" or something, but all three will still give their definition of what their respective words mean in the same common language. And since, hopefully, the new words will have been coined in a sensible way from roots and affixes already in that common language, someone who doesn't know one of the other new words for the thing will be able to reason out what it means fairly easily. And as the different communities interact, and mutual understanding becomes more important, the other terms will enter each other community's lexicons as synonyms (that fit perfectly well and don't seem excessively foreign; a computer does, after all, also calculate as well as compute), and perhaps eventually one of them will win out.

Take for example the American and British disagreement on "elevator" vs "lift". What does an elevator do? It lifts things. What does a lift do? It elevates things. Lift and elevate were already synonyms, and both names for the machine just tell you what it does using existing words that were already synonymous, so the new words are also synonymous. There's not a problem here; it's not as if American English decided to call it a "vat" (by dropping syllables out of "elevator" and then mispronouncing the remainder) and Brits were left wondering why the hell Americans named their lifting machines after large pots. (c.f. "wretch" -> "ratchet").

ps.02 wrote:Wait, what? What percentage is "most of the world" to you?

Slightly hyperbolic, but by geographical area it's not far off:
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Re: 1662: "Jack and Jill"

Postby Copper Bezel » Fri Apr 01, 2016 6:08 am UTC

The refinements in the particulars are irrelevant.
Pfhorrest wrote:But if modern peoples can't understand ancient peoples (and different modern peoples speaking different offshoots of the same ancient language likewise can't understand each other), not because those ancient peoples are talking about things that don't exist anymore, but just because the accumulation of errors in the language over time means we're now incompetent in the language that was (some of us in different ways and so incompetent with each other's language too), then that's a problem

This is an obviously nonsense statement that you're taking as obviously true and not in need of defense, and which is also the given premise that the rest of your argument is built around. It doesn't matter what you think "counts" and doesn't "count" in your scheme, because by the time we get down there, you're just talking to yourself anyway.
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Re: 1662: "Jack and Jill"

Postby ps.02 » Fri Apr 01, 2016 6:36 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:
ps.02 wrote:Wait, what? What percentage is "most of the world" to you?

Slightly hyperbolic, but by geographical area it's not far off:
Spoiler:
Image

That map is interesting but (of course) misleading. With its country boundaries, I mean. A bit unfair to the Eskimo-Aleut group, which inhabits a large area that is dark green on the map. Spanish and Portuguese may not penetrate all the way through the Amazon basin either. Also, hmmm, for some reason I had it in my head that Tamil (Sri Lanka) was Dravidian.

And, hey, so long as we're looking at area and not population, why not include sea area, a large part of which is Polynesian? (:

And I'm not sure what is going on in Africa. Last I knew, the DRC has French as its official language (implying dark green, not the light green shown) - but this too is misleading. Most citizens can speak one or more Bantu languages but very little French.

ETA: Then again, we may all someday end up speaking dialects of a single Indo-European language after all:
Spoiler:
Image

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Re: 1662: "Jack and Jill"

Postby orthogon » Fri Apr 01, 2016 6:52 am UTC

Tamil is Dravidian, but Sinhala is Indo-Aryan. Ethnic Sinhalese and presumably Sinhala speakers are in the majority. Tamil speakers are found more in the north, which, as noted, the nation-based colouring fails to capture.
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Re: 1662: "Jack and Jill"

Postby djvanderhoeven » Fri Apr 01, 2016 10:34 am UTC

My parents live in the Ozarks, on a hill overlooking a bend in the White River. About halfway down the hill is a natural spring, which I assume (without knowing more about the geology of the area) is artesian.

If you were coming from the top of the hill, you would run downhill to fetch the pale of water. But if you started from the bank of the river, you would run uphill to fetch it.

There's really nothing weird about the hydrology of running uphill to fetch a pale of water.

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Re: 1662: "Jack and Jill"

Postby gmalivuk » Fri Apr 01, 2016 12:15 pm UTC

Pfhorrest, you're still harping on arbitrary distinctions without consequential differences. Just as you could slow down but not stop genetic change if you eliminated some types of genetic mutation, you could slow but not stop language change if you eliminated some but not all types of linguistic mutation.

You still don't seem to get how pervasive different extensions are (much like you still don't understand most of how language change works). Yes, there are a few other words that most of us could parse as meaning "computer", but what about when people extend the same word in different ways? If I use "counter" to mean computer while you use it to mean a flat surface one might use to countmoney on while standing, there are going to be some difficulties. If I use "calculus" for calculator and "calculator" for computer, there are going to be more difficulties.

And that's all apart from the question of whether any of your weird conservatism is actually desirable for the majority of speakers (who until very recently haven't had any need to communicate worldwide, so you're still wrong about how far or quickly your "allowable" changes would spread across a language community). Without sound changes, we wouldn't have distinctions like those between "wisdom" and "vision" or "fatherly" and "paternal" or "psyche" and "spirit", or most of the words in the same family as "flow", "ball", "bloom", and "phallus".

Edit: Also, you argue that people can mutually understand intuitive extensions of existing words, but that doesn't apply to the invention of entirely new words, which you previously said was fine because it wasn't a "mistake". It also doesn't apply to one person extending a word in a way someone else doesn't find intuitive. Or to naming things after people or places when there might be some disagreement as to where and by whom it was invented (or the related practice of genericizing brand names that aren't the same everywhere).
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Re: 1662: "Jack and Jill"

Postby ucim » Fri Apr 01, 2016 2:34 pm UTC

So, the Malarkians invent a machine to keep swimming pool water clean, fresh, and sanitary. They call it a "sanitron". They also invent a device (and its microcode) that can parse hairy PHP and turn it into sane Python code. They have strong opinions about PHP code, and call it a "shitpurger".

Stupidians, living on the other side of the sea1, also invent a machine to keep swimming pool water clean, fresh, and sanitary. Drawing on the principle source of problems with their swimming pools, they call it a "shitpurger". Despite (or perhaps related to) these tendencies, they also excel in computer programming, and invent a device (and its microcode) that can parse hairy PHP and turn it into sane Python code. Given their strong opinions about Python, they call this device a "sanitron".

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Re: 1662: "Jack and Jill"

Postby Soupspoon » Fri Apr 01, 2016 2:45 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:(c.f. "wretch" -> "ratchet").

That's a new one on me.

Spoiler:
"Wretch" (an expanded use being in the classic "...wretched hive of scum and villainy...", i.e. unhappy/unfortunate/unpleasant person or, in this latter case, place) doesn't click in my mind as having any connection to "ratchet" (something mechanical, intended to enforce one way movement/rotation). And I can't even work out which one's supposed to be the US one and which the UK one.

A "wrench" (lets you wrench nuts and bolts loose, or tight) is traditionally the US version of UK's "spanner" (I'm guessing because of the 'span' of the lever, that allows you to increasing torque force), although some wrenches also have ratcheting functionality at their head, hence the "ratchet wrench" (also known as "socket wrench", although not all socket wrenches are ratcheting ones), whilst the "monkey wrench" (UK: "adjustable spanner", at least traditionally but US terms tend to flood over to the UK, taking our terms' jobs..!) is a non-ratcheted wrench, unless it happens to employ a ratcheting/releasing-type mechanism in the maw-size adjuster to save the user time winding the wormwheel/whatever back and forth between different jobs.
...but I'm willing to add it to my autotranslator if it's right. I'm off to browse some on-line dictionaries.

(And, tangentially to Ucim's comment, I'm going to do it in my pants! So I hope I'm either at home, or I'm working in an American open-plan office!)

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Re: 1662: "Jack and Jill"

Postby orthogon » Fri Apr 01, 2016 3:31 pm UTC

Well, what do you know, the tool I always thought was a monkey wrench is actually a mole wrench:
Spoiler:
Image
xtifr wrote:... and orthogon merely sounds undecided.

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Re: 1662: "Jack and Jill"

Postby hairflusher » Fri Apr 01, 2016 4:07 pm UTC

I think we all know what happens next:

Megan follows Jack and Jill to see the source of water. When she reaches them, they throw a pail of water on her and shout "April Fools!". Megan points out that that was very unoriginal of them. Jack and Jill then ponder this admonishment and wonder if it was them after all who were the fools.

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Re: 1662: "Jack and Jill"

Postby gmalivuk » Fri Apr 01, 2016 4:13 pm UTC

Soupspoon wrote:"Wretch" (an expanded use being in the classic "...wretched hive of scum and villainy...", i.e. unhappy/unfortunate/unpleasant person or, in this latter case, place) doesn't click in my mind as having any connection to "ratchet" (something mechanical, intended to enforce one way movement/rotation). And I can't even work out which one's supposed to be the US one and which the UK one.

That's not the sense of "ratchet" being referred to. Pfhorrest means the slang term (from AAVE) that means something fairly similar to "wretch" or "wretched".

Presumably accent differences are not "permitted" in his boring linguistic utopia, but it does raise the more general question of whether any homophones are acceptable.
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Re: 1662: "Jack and Jill"

Postby Soupspoon » Fri Apr 01, 2016 4:24 pm UTC

orthogon wrote:Well, what do you know, the tool I always thought was a monkey wrench is actually a mole wrench:
I've always known those as "Locking pliers". Which all goes to show... something. ;)

@gmalivuk... I also quickly checked on this reverse synonymity, but honestly didn't even know where else to go when my dictionary had nothing other than the one-wayness meaning. Obviously the AAVE influence hasn't got into that yet...

E: I'm wondering. Does someone saying "You're a ratchet", in AAVE, share much meaning with "You're a spanner" in the UK? Or is that just the coincidence thing, also talked about?
E2: A person who is a "spanner" (and also may be "a tool", but that's almost certainly from a different etymological route... or 'root', *fnar fnar*) generally makes things worse through a silly error. Could come from being "a spanner in the works", i.e. a (usually unintentional) version of the original act of 'sabotage'.
Last edited by Soupspoon on Fri Apr 01, 2016 4:54 pm UTC, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: 1662: "Jack and Jill"

Postby Copper Bezel » Fri Apr 01, 2016 4:25 pm UTC

I'd never heard the term "mole wrench" before and got worried, but at least according to the Wikipedia page, the two terms I have used for them ("locking pliers" and "vice grips") are real terms and I'm safe. = o
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Re: 1662: "Jack and Jill"

Postby Flumble » Fri Apr 01, 2016 4:27 pm UTC

This year's xkcd's April Fools' joke's no comic?

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Re: 1662: "Jack and Jill"

Postby Zinho » Fri Apr 01, 2016 4:59 pm UTC

Soupspoon wrote:A "wrench" (lets you wrench nuts and bolts loose, or tight) is traditionally the US version of UK's "spanner" (I'm guessing because of the 'span' of the lever, that allows you to increasing torque force). . .

Oh, we have spanners in the U.S. as well:
Spoiler:
Image

They're great when you need them, but kinda specialized. I always thought the "span" that the spanner was spanning was the distance between the two points it was latching onto, not the length of the handle.

Incidentally, all spanners are also wrenches; i.e. they are used to apply torque to something and make it turn by applying force to the handle. By the U.S. definition, though, not all wrenches are spanners. While the British generalization of the word spanner to mean any type of wrench is therefore understandable (Synecdoche isn't just a city in New York) it does make .USians scratch their heads a little.

Edited to add:
Flumble wrote:This year's xkcd's April Fools' joke's no comic?
I know, right? What's Randall up to?

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Re: 1662: "Jack and Jill"

Postby Pfhorrest » Fri Apr 01, 2016 5:18 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:Presumably accent differences are not "permitted" in his boring linguistic utopia, but it does raise the more general question of whether any homophones are acceptable.

Not mere accent differences, but that coupled with spelling differences indicating that the speaker/writer has conflated the two completely different words entirely. When people write "ratchet" in a context where it's clearly an insult directed at a person, I'm initially left wondering if that's some weird roundabout way of calling them a "tool" or something, and it took quite some time to figure out that "wretched" the adjective somewhere got treated as a noun to replace "wretch", pronounced more like "ratchet" the tool, and then written down as though it was the very same word "ratchet" as in the tool. I wouldn't care nearly so much if the sounds coming out of some people's mouths pronounced some "e"s more like "a"s and some "d"s more like "t"s (it's still technically in error but it's an error of sloppy mechanics, like a typo, easily forgiven in an informal context where perfection isn't necessary), so long as it was clear that the words "wretched" and "ratchet" were still distinct in the people's minds.
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Re: 1662: "Jack and Jill"

Postby ucim » Fri Apr 01, 2016 5:43 pm UTC

Soupspoon wrote:@gmalivuk... I also quickly checked on this reverse synonymity, but honestly didn't even know where else to go when my dictionary had nothing other than the one-wayness meaning.
Check out the Red American Heritage dictionary. Has to be the red one - either size. It has a proto-Indo-European section in the back, and in the (regular) definitions, many words refer to PIE roots therein. In the PIE section, reverse etymology leads you to wonderful linkages.

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Re: 1662: "Jack and Jill"

Postby orthogon » Fri Apr 01, 2016 5:44 pm UTC

Zinho wrote:Incidentally, all spanners are also wrenches; i.e. they are used to apply torque to something and make it turn by applying force to the handle. By the U.S. definition, though, not all wrenches are spanners. While the British generalization of the word spanner to mean any type of wrench is therefore understandable (Synecdoche isn't just a city in New York) it does make .USians scratch their heads a little.

I'd say that spanner is a narrow term in EN-GB too, referring specifically to the fixed-span tool (exhibit A) used for hex nuts and bolts, and also to the adjustable version (Exhibit B, a.k.a. a shifter) that attempts to come as close as possible to providing a variable width version of the same thing. Then there are the other tools in the extended family: Stilsons, pipe wrenches, monkey wrenches and so on. So what it seems to come down to is that EN-US doesn't have a specific term for the things that we call spanners (though I get the impression that wrench used without qualification is assumed to be this), whilst we don't really have a term for the superclass that EN-US calls wrenches; it feels a bit too broad to be worth naming.

Exhibit A:
Spoiler:
Image

Exhibit B:
Spoiler:
Image
xtifr wrote:... and orthogon merely sounds undecided.

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Re: 1662: "Jack and Jill"

Postby gmalivuk » Fri Apr 01, 2016 5:54 pm UTC

Soupspoon wrote:
orthogon wrote:Well, what do you know, the tool I always thought was a monkey wrench is actually a mole wrench:
I've always known those as "Locking pliers". Which all goes to show... something. ;)

@gmalivuk... I also quickly checked on this reverse synonymity, but honestly didn't even know where else to go when my dictionary had nothing other than the one-wayness meaning. Obviously the AAVE influence hasn't got into that yet...

E: I'm wondering. Does someone saying "You're a ratchet", in AAVE, share much meaning with "You're a spanner" in the UK? Or is that just the coincidence thing, also talked about?
E2: A person who is a "spanner" (and also may be "a tool", but that's almost certainly from a different etymological route... or 'root', *fnar fnar*) generally makes things worse through a silly error. Could come from being "a spanner in the works", i.e. a (usually unintentional) version of the original act of 'sabotage'.
No, "ratchet" the insult comes from "wretched" the insult, and has no etymological or semantic relation to "ratchet" the mechanical device. If people call other people "spanners" in the UK, it is an unrelated extention. (Not even a coincidence, really, because as I said "ratchet" the insult doesn't have any tool-related meaning.)

Pfhorrest wrote:
gmalivuk wrote:Presumably accent differences are not "permitted" in his boring linguistic utopia, but it does raise the more general question of whether any homophones are acceptable.

Not mere accent differences, but that coupled with spelling differences indicating that the speaker/writer has conflated the two completely different words entirely. When people write "ratchet" in a context where it's clearly an insult directed at a person, I'm initially left wondering if that's some weird roundabout way of calling them a "tool" or something, and it took quite some time to figure out that "wretched" the adjective somewhere got treated as a noun to replace "wretch", pronounced more like "ratchet" the tool, and then written down as though it was the very same word "ratchet" as in the tool. I wouldn't care nearly so much if the sounds coming out of some people's mouths pronounced some "e"s more like "a"s and some "d"s more like "t"s (it's still technically in error but it's an error of sloppy mechanics, like a typo, easily forgiven in an informal context where perfection isn't necessary), so long as it was clear that the words "wretched" and "ratchet" were still distinct in the people's minds.
Everyone pronounces "d" as /t/ in some of their "ed" endings, though generally not when the "e" is pronounced.

Devoicing of standard English /d/ at the ends of words is quite common in AAVE, and when the dialect is written it's often as "t" or "dt". And vowels are the first things to have their pronunciation changed in different English accents. Spelling those differently should be no more odious for AAVE than for the likes of further/farther or grey/gray, except for the fact that people are racist. When a word takes on a different meaning in a dialect where it's pronounced differently, it's completely reasonable for it to have a spelling that reflects that dialect's pronunciation of it.

The fact that it took you a long time to figure out what "ratchet" means isn't a point against it, because 1) AAVE is not a dialect that exists for nonblack people to understand easily and 2) Urbandictionary is a thing you could have used at any time.

(Also of course "wretched" and "ratchet" are distinct. That's one of the reasons why they're spelled differently.)
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Re: 1662: "Jack and Jill"

Postby Copper Bezel » Fri Apr 01, 2016 6:03 pm UTC

whilst we don't really have a term for the superclass that EN-US calls wrenches; it feels a bit too broad to be worth naming.

"A metal stick that turns bolts" seems pretty specific, though? And socket and wretched tools seem excluded.

A monkey wrench is definitely exactly the same thing as an adjustable wrench. Google Images returns about 1/4 as many monkey wrenches that are not monkey wrenches as ones that are when searching for "monkey wrench".
So much depends upon a red wheel barrow (>= XXII) but it is not going to be installed.

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Re: 1662: "Jack and Jill"

Postby Pfhorrest » Fri Apr 01, 2016 6:17 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:(Also of course "wretched" and "ratchet" are distinct. That's one of the reasons why they're spelled differently.)

Except when they're not, which is exactly when I have a problem with it.

Here's a similar example case I encountered recently, that to my knowledge is not an AAVE thing. A lot of people, when speaking the phrase "might as well", slur the syllables together into something more like /maɪʔswɛl/ or even just /maɪswɛl/. I don't really care about that at all; I probably do it myself sometimes. But I know that the words I'm sloppily trying to articulate when I make the sounds /maɪʔswɛl/ are "might as well". But yesterday I saw someone write "mys well" where they clearly meant "might as well". I don't know if that's widespread at all, it's the first I've seen of it, but it is clearly an error of a person not knowing what words they're actually trying to say; they know a series of sounds with a vague sense of when it's appropriate to use them but not much more than that, and are trying to write down letters that represent those sounds. If that is or became a widespread thing, it would continue to be an error. Writing "ratchet" when what's meant was "wretched" (where by "wretched" they mean "wretch") is exactly that same kind of error, and it doesn't matter if that error is widespread through a specific language community or not.
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Re: 1662: "Jack and Jill"

Postby gmalivuk » Fri Apr 01, 2016 7:16 pm UTC

The reason why I will always put quotes around your notions of "mistake" and "error" when discussing this with you is that, as I believe I explained in the very first thread you posted about it, you are not using those words in a way consistent with the rest of the English speaking world. If anything here is a real mistake, it is *your* use of those words to include things as universal as saying and writing "goodbye" instead of "God be with you", or "every" instead of "ever each".
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Re: 1662: "Jack and Jill"

Postby Pfhorrest » Fri Apr 01, 2016 7:58 pm UTC

Does anyone still say or write or mean "God be with ye" or "ever each"? If not, then the point is moot; the mistakes that lead to that usage were made in the past, the language is now different, and they're not mistakes in the new language. They were still mistakes when they were first made, in the past, but that's nothing to fault modern speakers for.

When people are actively misusing a language they're nominally still speaking, one that's still alive and has people still using it correctly, then when those latter people call the former people's usage in error, they're right.
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