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Rules of Usage: The English Language

Wannaplan?

Bounty Hunter
Messages
3,217
Points
29
Can some one who speaks English help out a poor soul?

How come the more I read, the more I come across words like roofs? I always thought it was rooves. I mean, I learned that in first grade over 20 years ago. What happened? Also, why is, "The couple thought they had an historic house, but their parcel was not included as part of the historic district when it was formed over 15 years ago." Huh? I thought the hard H at the beginning of historic neccessitated the use of a and not an. I don't go around saying, "My gay uncle lives with his life-partner in an istoric house on the south side of town." Historic is still historic, right? I don't go around saying < istoric >. Maybe I should? Have the rules changed on this one, too? Or is it a spell-checker thing? I'm so confused!!
 

el Guapo

Capitalist
Messages
5,995
Points
31
Good Question

I am the most clueless here at Cyburbia when it comes to the correct usage of the English language. Recently, I have been going to my vintage 1980's copy of Strunk and White's - The Elements of Style daily for even the most minor things.

[ot]On a related question, I have a document that I would like to have proofed and edited? Can anyone suggest a fair wage for an English major graduate student to whip some red pain upon my paper?

Any of you interested in some jack for grammar?[/ot]
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
Wanigas?, you are correct in your interpretation. "A" is used in front of a "hard" H, and "an" is used in front of a "soft" H. I have seen both used incorrectly, and think it may be part of a trend to simplify the language - remember, people are now encouraged to write to to the level of a grade school audience.

I believe your example of rooves is another instance of the same trend. Rather than commit to remembering the exceptional case, people would prefer to apply a standard rule to making a plural. "Insure" and "ensure" is one that always gets me. Since people are unsure of which word to use, "insure" has begun to be accepted in either circumstance.

Our language is continuing to evolve. Criticize Dan Quaile if you will, but "potatoe" was once an accepted spelling. It is now archaic. "Ensure" and "rooves" are similarly falling out of use. You and I are becoming archaic. El Guapo may be more atavistic. ;)
 
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31
Same thing with "accept" and "except" or "effect" and "affect." It gets under my skin to see these words used in the wrong context.

I think that the digital evolution may be one of the reasons that many grammar rules have become archaic. With the rise of bulletin boards, instant messaging and chat rooms, email, etc., not many are too inclined to follow correct usuage.
 

Wannaplan?

Bounty Hunter
Messages
3,217
Points
29
Yeah, I like the exceptional cases. I like words like rooves and hooves. Roofs and hoofs do not have any pizazz at all!!

What about booth? Isn't the plural boothes? Or is it just booths?

Ever read any of Steven Pinker's books? He says great things about language and how our brains are organized. If you love language, I suggest you pick up one of his books.
 

SW MI Planner

Cyburbian
Messages
3,194
Points
26
Cardinal said:
Wanigas?, you are correct in your interpretation. "A" is used in front of a "hard" H, and "an" is used in front of a "soft" H.
I didn't even know you were supposed to put AN in front of any H's. I thought AN went only in front of words starting with vowels. And what is the difference between a hard H and a soft H. Examples please?

And I also never heard of rooves.

Where the heck have I been? Edited to add that I thought I was pretty good with grammar, but apparently not!
 

Tom R

Cyburbian
Messages
2,274
Points
25
english

The plural of roof is roofs. Dictionary.com says so. I've heard of "rooves" and there may be a dim dark origin to it. But I think it is just a matter of confusion with English plurals ie. hoof - hooves. It could also be a local coloquialism. I think the confusion with "a" vs. "an" historic house is that the "h" in this case is a weak sound. It is just aspirated meaning that the vocal cords are not used. It tends to be dropped such as in the Cockney accent. The word "herb" (the plant) is similar. I was taught that the "h" was silent but I've heard it pronounced like the name. (ie. Tarlick) I think the change from "a" to "an" developed as an easier way of pronounciation when the vowell "a" comes directly before a word starting with another vowell. A apple is harder to say than an apple.
 

donk

Cyburbian
Messages
6,970
Points
30
I always have to check the dictionary for affect vs effect and ensure vs insure. I try not to use them so I don't use them improperly.

On the hooves thing. I think the spelling may also go to pronounciation. hard H uh ve s (kind of like cloves)
 

Tom R

Cyburbian
Messages
2,274
Points
25
Re: Re: H

Originally posted by Planderella
You just gave yourself an example with "hard." There's also "home," "house," "horse, "handle".....

Right, and in each example the "H" is pronounced the same as in history.
 

Rem

Cyburbian
Messages
1,523
Points
23
Re: english

Tom R said:
The plural of roof is roofs.
I agree with Tom R. I once researched this for a light industry development control plan and despite expecting it to be rooves, it is definitely roofs in English and Australian usage.
 
Messages
7,649
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29
Re: Good Question

el Guapo said:

[ot]On a related question, I have a document that I would like to have proofed and edited? Can anyone suggest a fair wage for an English major graduate student to whip some red pain upon my paper?

Any of you interested in some jack for grammar?[/ot]
If you are serious, hey, I am for hire. :)

(If you want my credentials: my sister, who has a degree in journalism used to edit my high school and college papers and taught me a great deal of what I know about the technical side of writing. I have served as editor on a number of group projects for school. I quit asking my sister to proof and edit my papers some time ago, except for really difficult items. I ran one past her last fall and she had no suggestions to make and said, instead, "You may go now, Grasshopper" and pronouced me Officially Graduated. Now she sometimes runs her papers past me. :) )

My pet peeve: Till we meet again.

Till is what you do to a farm field.

'Til is the correct short version of "until".
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,623
Points
34
My God, I just realized there are people more anal retentive than me in existence! Thank you!

And Wanigas! - is it really appropriate to be outting your uncle? Rules of decorum apply to that just as much as they apply to the english language. Sheeesh.
 

Tom R

Cyburbian
Messages
2,274
Points
25
anal

Chet said:
My God, I just realized there are people more anal retentive than me in existence!

That should be "....more anal retentive than I in existance."
 

Wannaplan?

Bounty Hunter
Messages
3,217
Points
29
Chet said:
My God, I just realized there are people more anal retentive than me in existence! Thank you!

And Wanigas! - is it really appropriate to be outting your uncle? Rules of decorum apply to that just as much as they apply to the english language. Sheeesh.
Chet, if you have an axe to grind with me, please feel free to send me a PM. Otherwise, please stop your trolling - you are a moderator afterall.
 

michaelskis

Cyburbian
Messages
20,176
Points
51
I may be wrong, but in many other languages, "H" is almost a vowel. In French for example, many times the H at the beginning of a word is not pronounced. Much of the English language comes from other languages (mainly Latin and Greek).
 
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Re: english

Tom R said:
I think the change from "a" to "an" developed as an easier way of pronounciation when the vowell "a" comes directly before a word starting with another vowell. A apple is harder to say than an apple.
I was going to spare you, since I think it is not nice to pick on people about such things, but you did it to Chet. So, for fun:

It is "vowel", not "vowell".

Yes, it is harder to say two vowels back-to-back and that is why French is so screwy: they like things to flow almost musically and, therefore, they stick in extra letters willy-nilly specifically for that purpose, plus they drop vowels and also change word forms all together, just so it flows nicely.

As for what michaelskis said: I can't think of any words in French where the H is actually pronounced at all. A number of foreign languages basically drop the H in a lot of cognates. In classic Greek, they had no letter for H. They simply put an apostrophe at the beginning of a word starting with a vowel to indicate the aspiration. H is one of those weird sounds, similar to "th", that is just kind of hard to say and to hear, actually. I have a German aunt who never did learn to say "th".
 

octa girl

Member
Messages
20
Points
2
yeah I second the recommendation for steven pinker. I read 'the language instinct'. It was well written and interesting. I have heard good things about 'how the mind works'; but i don't think it focuses on language aquisition.
 
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29
For fun: Here is the link to a poem, which is sometimes incorrectly called "English is Tough Stuff."

http://www.waldorf-swlondon.org/texts/the_chaos.html

We used this poem for a week or so, a few years back, for homeschooling our kids. They did not believe I had all the words pronounced correctly when I read it out loud and we looked many of them up in the dictionary. After that, my kids argued with me a lot less. :) If you know how to pronounce everything in that poem, you are an Uber-Geek of a different genre than what usually gets referred to here. (Which isn't to say I knew all of them. Some of these words are so obscure that I had not seen them before. But everything I claimed to know how to pronounce turned out to be correct.)
 
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Tom R

Cyburbian
Messages
2,274
Points
25
Re: Re: english

Michele Zone said:
I was going to spare you, since I think it is not nice to pick on people about such things, but you did it to Chet. So, for fun:

It is "vowel", not "vowell".

Thanks. I can take it as well as dish it out. I never could spell very well. I use spell check on my emails but I can't find one for Cyburbia. But for clarification, I think the first round was fired by Chet regarding anal retentiveness. Hopefully all was in fun.
 

Tom R

Cyburbian
Messages
2,274
Points
25
plannerkat said:
Nothing to add really, except that "an historic" drives me nuts!!!! H is not a vowel people!
Remember a e i o u , sometimes y and often w.
 
Messages
7,649
Points
29
Re: Re: Re: english

Tom R said:
Thanks. I can take it as well as dish it out. I never could spell very well. I use spell check on my emails but I can't find one for Cyburbia. But for clarification, I think the first round was fired by Chet regarding anal retentiveness. Hopefully all was in fun.
I think it was in good fun. I certainly meant no harm. :)

I have a friend whose spelling is pathetic and she complains that spell check never has the kinds of words in it that she has trouble with. I have run into that myself, when writing college papers with technical terms. She asked me once when I was going to write a spell check for "smart people" (folks with big vocabularies). I spell fairly well, most of the time. But my ability to write code is pretty pathetic so I don't think I will be marketing Spell Checker for Brainiacs anytime soon. (And then there is the whole foreign language thing. Spell checker whigs out when you throw in foreign phrases!)
 

Doitnow

Cyburbian
Messages
496
Points
16
Has anybody heard 'H' pronounced as 'Echh'( or etch) so the 'E' is actually an 'a'.

Looks like we need to ask about this to a traditional british english teacher and a researcher on language change who tracks modern usage.

For example a misil was a misyle(missile) earlier so i think these changes are ok( because 'A apple is harder to say than an apple') This way the americans have brought ij totally new pronounciations.
Very popular in India right now is the Skedule( rather than the Schedule) Peol\pla accept it well enough.

The complexity itslef is the beauty of english language.
For example 'Finite' is fynite but ad 'de' to it and it becomes definite( say it understand what i mean)
As humans we can change language which suits us better.
But theres a lot of difference between Insure and Ensure, accept and except.
We cant expect people to make out the differences just by the usage and location in the context.
Im sure u'll find some britisher who would pronounce historic as istoric and add an an in front.

Clubbing ensure and insure would mean reducing a word from the gigantic and (universe set) pool of words to use. Words should increase i think with time and not decrease. Other languages will dry out over long periods.
In the meantime I'll asksome experts around me and get backsoon.

Bye for now
 
Messages
7,649
Points
29
Maheep (what would you prefer to be called?),
I generally do not make a big deal out of such things for the reasons you cite. My first love was always language and I originally wanted to be a simultaneous translator. I took an introductory linguistics class in collge (a long time ago), as well as 4 quarters of French and 2 of Classical (ancient) Greek. My mother is German. While she did not teach me German as a child, I did develop an ear for it and I always knew some German. This allowed me to become rapidly fluent when a close friend of the family got married when I was 16 and many of their German relatives came for the wedding for 2 or 3 weeks. Some of them spoke no English and I was suddenly immersed in a language to which I had long been exposed. I have also picked up a smattering of Spanish and Russian and my husband was shocked at how much of his Latin textbook I could decipher based on my knowledge of some of the Romance languages descended from Latin and on studying Latin prefixes, suffixes, and root words in order to do well on the SAT.

A language that is in daily use by a large number of people is genuinely alive and growing. Just as nature dictates that physical creatures are either growing or decaying, when language ceases to be adaptable, it begins to die. This is why you cannot have a published dictionary that is up to date and why it is difficult to learn the idioms and slang of foreign language: these things exist mostly in the living body of spoken language and any published source is guaranteed to be somewhat behind the times. "Proper usage" for written work is always an archaic form of the spoken, living language.

However, that is true of many things, not just language. Proper formal attire is generally "behind the time" as well. Women generally do not wear long dresses anymore -- unless it is an important occasion and then they dress as if it were 100 years ago. Uniforms of all kind also follow that rule. In the American Army, there is a very formal uniform called "Dress Blues" which are considered to be fancier than "Dress Greens" and are usually only owned by officers -- my husband has a set because he was a recruiter for a time. "Dress Blues" have a jacket that is a much darker shade of blue than the pants. This is a historic reference to the Civil War in the US, something which occured about 140 years ago. In the Civil War, soldiers of the North would wear their pants everyday but store their jacket in their sadal bags most of the time and only take it out for very cold weather or formal occasions. Constant exposure to sunlight and more frequent washings bleached out the color of the pants, especially since there were no synthetic materials at that time. Later, the uniform was intentionally made to look like that.

As a general rule, the more formal an organization is, the slower it changes and, therefore, the more out of date its formal attire and customs will be. For example, the uniforms of the guard at the Vatican are hundreds of years out of date in comparison to the dress uniforms of the American Military which are only 140 years out of date. That rule applies equally to formal language. The formalized, respectful language of the U.S. Senate requires members to address one another as "The Distinguished Gentleman" (for male members -- it is a historically male organization and still largely male-dominated). Again, this is language that has not been in daily usage in at least 100 years and sounded very "funny" (as in "odd") to me when I first learned of it.

The word I noted as my pet peeve -- spelling 'til as till -- I tell my kids that in a few hundred years, till will be the proper spelling and they will refer to 'til as "Archaic American" or something like that. Of course, that grows out of my assumption that in a few hundred years, the language Americans speak will be formally recognized as a separate language from 'The King's English' of Great Britain. The English spoken in Britain, Canada, the U.S. and even India all have some differences which hinder communication and are likely to continue to grow apart, in a similar fashion to the process that created the Romance languages. The "Romance Languages" of Europe are a hybrid of local tribal languages and Latin (the language of Rome -- Romance in this case refers to the Roman Empire and not to hearts and flowers and being in love). All European languages that fall in the geographic area which was once covered by the Roman Empire are a mixture of local languages and Latin. The Romance languages are more strongly Latin. The Germanic languages have a heavier influence from local tribal languages. Geographically, proximity to Rome is a significant influencing factor.

So, just as Rome had an Empire, spread its language far and wide, receded, and Latin began to differentiate based on local usage, Great Britain more recently had an empire, spread its language far and wide, and now English has begun to differentiate into various subsets. Perhaps the advent of the Internet and a Global Economy will slow the rate at which these localized languages grow apart and differentiate. It would be interesting to see, but I won't live long enough to really and truly know.

Nonetheless, for formal and proper English, those archaic and outdated forms are important. More current usages are rightfully known as colloguialisms or slang or conversational English. There is a practical reason for sticking to the archaic, formalized usages for a time: they are more universally understood than the living language and its many new-born words, phrases, and ideas. Therefore, it promotes communication to a broader audience -- for a time, at least. When it becomes so archaic that it hinders communication, it generally ceases to be seen as "proper" and gets reclassified as "out of date".

Respectfully,
Michele
 

passdoubt

Cyburbian
Messages
407
Points
13
I think that the introduction of "an" preceding words like "historic" in American English is another Britishicism by which Americans have become infatuated/confused. The "H" in "historic" isn't pronounced by some Brits, so using "an" would be appropriate. American culture often heils people with British accents as being intelligent, stylish, etc. If you ever watch a TV segment on fashion or hair care, chances are there'll be some expert with an English accent telling you how marvelous he or she is. I think, subconsciously, a lot of people think "British accent! Ooh! They're smart!"

I'd bet that most Americans spell the color "grey" as well. The American spelling is "gray."
 

jresta

Cyburbian
Messages
1,474
Points
23
English is a germanic language - most closely related to the languages and dialects of the areas along the North Sea coast between Denmark and the Netherlands. Danish cursing has been almost perfectly preserved in english and Dutch is pretty close as well - the "j" is pronounced as our "y" and the "i" is pronounced as our "ee" as in "bleed".

Kom hier, wat u doet? Krijg je slijmerige vingers van van mijn koekjes en krijg de hel uit hier!
translates to -
Come here, what are you doing? Get your slimy fingers off of my cookies and get the hell out of here!

Latin had an influence on early english when the Romans had colonized southeastern england. But that was an influence of vocabulary (mostly in the legal and government realm) and not of structure. When the normans (norse men - other than language there really wasn't much french about them) took over in 1054 there was a serious french influence on vocabulary and a bit less on structure. Most of our military language comes from french, also animals in the field have a germanic name but when they're on your table they have a french name. Cow/beef (beouf) pig/pork(porc) chicken/poultry(poulet) sheep/mutton(mutton). Really, most of the "latin" influence in english comes from the Norman conquest.

As far as the a/an rule is concerned - it is a "rule" with many exceptions and "historic" is one of them.

One would write "Iceland is a european country"
or "She's a user of our new software"

Using "an" as opposed to "a" has everything to do with the sound that comes after and little to do with whether it's a vowel or a consonant. It's part of the french influence influence on our language, they call it a "liason", when a word starts with a vowel or with an h the last consonant of the previous word gets carried over in the pronunciation as if it were one word.

In french if you were to say Les Arts it would be pronounced "lay zart" and Beaux Arts (which all planners should be familiar with) is pronounced "bow zart"

english speakers, americans especially, do this all the time in conversation whether they realize it or not. "This year" is my pet peeve which most americans like to pronounce as one word sounding like "thishear" as if they were talking about a pair of scissors.

In conclusion, there is nothing wrong with saying or writing "an historic." The only way i could give a presentation to our board and still sound like a confident speaker would be to say
30th St. is anhistoric building", (with a very soft h - which is how i would pronounce it anyway) and probably most people from the northeast.

my other options are
"30th St. is uhhistoric building"
or
"30th St is ayhistoric building" which makes it sound like it's without history
 

jresta

Cyburbian
Messages
1,474
Points
23
I would say that, as long as global television and print media abound english will become more and more homogenized and not divergent as most people suspect. The newspapers and airwaves all across the english speaking world and beyond are full of american syndication.

My australian friend remarked that it was weird being here for a few months. When he went home and turned on the TV the same american shows that he had been watching before he left were on, but when the local news came on he was taken aback because the woman had an accent, albeit and australian one.

Even in the US regional accents are fading quickly. Been to Bahston lately? That accent is more and more a blue collar signifier than anything else. Same thing in New York.

http://www.americancity.org/Archives/Issue1/brook.html

I think my favorite regionalism is the great lakes thing where people pronounce the name of a guy like he has a lot of hair . . .

Harry - hairy
 

Wannaplan?

Bounty Hunter
Messages
3,217
Points
29
passdoubt said:
I'd bet that most Americans spell the color "grey" as well.
If we were really really really suder-duper in love with those Brits, then we'd write, "I'd bet that most Americans spell the colour grey as well."

I'm in love with the Canadians. I prefer to write "cheque" instead "check." But I'll soon probably be aprehended as an Al Queda agent cuz I'm a little cozy wit da Frenchies.
 

ilikefish0

Cyburbian
Messages
204
Points
9
plannerkat said:
Nothing to add really, except that "an historic" drives me nuts!!!! H is not a vowel people!
The letter "H"'s vowel-ness really does not matter. The choice of "a" or "an" is really a matter of sound. For example, I think that we can all agree that "an hour" is correct usage. In many words that begin with "H," the h sound is not pronounced or barely pronounced. In these cases, an is appropriate. For a nonstandard pronunciation like "istoric," I think "an" is still required to preserve the sound of the language.

MicheleZone said:
All European languages that fall in the geographic area which was once covered by the Roman Empire are a mixture of local languages and Latin. The Romance languages are more strongly Latin. The Germanic languages have a heavier influence from local tribal languages. Geographically, proximity to Rome is a significant influencing factor.
Ah, a fellow subscriber to the Italian is screwed-up Latin, Spanish is screwed-up Italian, and Portugese is screwed-up Spanish theory. If I could ony figure out where in the world Romanian and French came from, I would have it made.
 

SW MI Planner

Cyburbian
Messages
3,194
Points
26
jresta said:
I think my favorite regionalism is the great lakes thing where people pronounce the name of a guy like he has a lot of hair . . .

Harry - hairy
Guilt as charged :) So how would you non great lakers say it?
 
Messages
7,649
Points
29
jresta said:
I would say that, as long as global television and print media abound english will become more and more homogenized and not divergent as most people suspect. The newspapers and airwaves all across the english speaking world and beyond are full of american syndication.

Even in the US regional accents are fading quickly. Been to Bahston lately? That accent is more and more a blue collar signifier than anything else. Same thing in New York.
This is part of why I say it would be interesting to hang around and see how it turns out. I know that is an important influence right now and it is unprecedented: there has never before been such an effective means for spreading a particular speaking style or "dialect" across the entire globe. But I am not entirely convinced that "english" will become more homogenized. Perhaps the English of newspapers, TV, and even the Internet will become the new International language of business and of the priveleged classes but that does not necessarily preclude Canadian, American, and Australian dialects from differentiating into separate languages.

Privileged peoples (who tend to be well educated and well traveled) have long tended to have less of a regional accent. The upperclasses and merchants who deal with import business have long had some kind of international language. Latin served that purpose for a long time. That fact did not stop Spanish, French, and so on from differentiating into separate languages.

Understanding what you hear or read is far easier than being able to reply intelligibly. Many people who took a foreign language a long time ago can still understand some of it but cannot reply in it, whether spoken or written. TV and newsprint are broadcast media, not interactive communication. The fact that many people understand it does not necessarily mean they will speak that way. I am regularly told that I speak unusually well -- with good enunciation, etc. Yet, when I am tired, I still sometimes apply German grammatical forms to my English -- and my kids laugh at me. My mom spoke English as a second language and when I am tired, I do not sound American. I sound like my mother. I also "exclaim" in German. You are far more likely to hear me say "Ach die leibe Gutte" or "Scheisse" than to hear me swearing or exclaiming in English in surprised reaction.

I think the English of the Internet is more likely to promote a truly International language than any broadcast medium is likely to do. And the English of the Internet tends to not be "standard" English. Nor does being fluent in the written form have much bearing on the spoken form. The written form of a language and the spoken form evolve at different speeds and tend to be different. I speak fairly fluent conversational German. But I can't read it and write it very well. I learned it from relatives and from living in Germany and have never studied it formally. I studied French formally and can still read it and write it some. But I never developed an ear for it, so I really can't follow spoken French and I certainly can't reply in a fluent manner in French.

With the information explosion, I think English will differentiate more, even within countries.
 
Messages
7,649
Points
29
ilikefish0 said:

Ah, a fellow subscriber to the Italian is screwed-up Latin, Spanish is screwed-up Italian, and Portugese is screwed-up Spanish theory. If I could ony figure out where in the world Romanian and French came from, I would have it made.
I think French is a little more to the North and Romanian more to the East. ;) And you left out Catalan.:)
 

jresta

Cyburbian
Messages
1,474
Points
23
SW MI Planner said:
Guilt as charged :) So how would you non great lakers say it?
I don't know how to spell it phonetically so it would translate

to me the "a" in harry and the "ai" in hairy have always been totally different sounds. I would pronounce "hairy" much the same as you would (but a bit less of the nasal sound).

Well . . . "happened" is a good one. In Western NY people tend to stick a "y" in there like "hyappened" but we say it "haapened" with the "a" sound being more like the noise you make when you stick your tongue out at the doctor's office

http://kyw.dayport.com/viewer/viewerpage.php?Art_ID=4004&tf=kywviewer.tpl

here's a good example - listen to the way the reporter says her name - and other words like "access" - and it's even planning related
 

Gedunker

Moderating
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
11,494
Points
41
jresta said:
Kom hier, wat u doet? Krijg je slijmerige vingers van van mijn koekjes en krijg de hel uit hier!
translates to -
Come here, what are you doing? Get your slimy fingers off of my cookies and get the hell out of here!
jresta: just to be sure -- that quoted above is Dutch and not Danish. If it's Danish, it must be from the Faroe Islands, because I do not recognize it, og jeg tale at laer dansk.

Obscure word history: ever wonder where the term by-law comes from? It is Danish, from "by" (although pronounced 'bou' as in boutique) which means "town" . Dates from the days when my ancestors were wreaking havoc over the UK.
 

jresta

Cyburbian
Messages
1,474
Points
23
Latin never "diverged" into all of the different romance languages. When the Romans took over western europe they weren't conquering trees ;-)

To the northeast of Rome were the Germanic tribes and to the northwest were the Celtic tribes. Basque is an example of a language that is neither germanic nor Celtic that survived Rome, the Church, and Franco and continues to this day.

The conquering Roman soldiers spoke vulgar latin to begin with so what these new roman subjects were learning was already significantly different from what we may have studied in school. The "Latin" produced in Spain and France was then more a language of trade than of household use. The local people put their own words and accents to this "new latin" and what you got was primitive French, Spanish, etc.

Don't forget too that the Moors spent a few hundred years in the south of italy, spain, and portugal and that no doubt had an influence.

Romania was Slavic territory before Rome, was colonized late in the game, and was then ruled from Constantinople, while being surrounded by other slavic speaking people.

France was called "Gaul" in Roman times referring to the Gaelic tribes that lived there. After the fall of Rome it was overrun by the Franks, a Germanic tribe. Still later Norse tribes took over the north of France producing a notable difference between the French of the north and the Occitan, for instance, of the South.

Italian city-states had their own mini-empires that exported their language all over the Meditteranean and for 300 years Catalonia ruled the western Med and the language exists to this day in scattered cities throughout the area.

So i don't think language really mutates over time on its own. Language can become incredibly stagnant when it is isolated.
I don't see a divergence in Australian and American english so much as i see the two dialects being cut off from one another and being influenced by vastly different languages. But english is highly standardized (dictionaries, literature, etc.)so both of our countries would have to go through some catastrophic changes and be cut off from the rest of the english speaking world for quite a while for this to all come about.
 
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jresta said:
Latin never "diverged" into all of the different romance languages. When the Romans took over western europe they weren't conquering trees ;-)

Oh, darn! I thought they were. Back to the drawing board. :)
 

B'lieve

Cyburbian
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Actually, Basque is, as far as I've ever learned, the only remaining European language that is not Indo-European. A handy Google search brought up a webguide to Basque sites:

Yamada Language Center: Basque WWW Guide

and the official website of the Basque autonomous region within Spain:

Euskadi

Not to hijack the thread or anything ;) ...
 

jresta

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B'lieve said:
Actually, Basque is, as far as I've ever learned, the only remaining European language that is not Indo-European. A handy Google search brought up a webguide to Basque sites:

Yamada Language Center: Basque WWW Guide

and the official website of the Basque autonomous region within Spain:

Basque is fascinating. There's been some borrowed words from latin (via french and spanish) and some heavy influence on vowel pronunciation from spanish but otherwise it's intact and no one can really figure out where it came from.

Galega is spoken in northwestern spain. It's another romance language that holds on to some of its Gaelic influences. The traditional ceremonial dress there is a kilt and they still play the bagpipes.

It's just neat to see how that culture got pushed to the fringes of europe - look at the map and see how the Celtic languages are on the northwestern fringe of every landmass. Irish and Scottish, Breton and Welsh.


if the pic doesn't show up for you try
http://www.ship.edu/~cgboeree/indoeuropeanlanguages.html

Finnish and Hungarian are also not Indo-European but are related to each other. They're members of the Ural-Altaic family which includes turkic and the dravidian languages of southern India and, some say, japanese and korean.
 

Tom R

Cyburbian
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25
thread

I haven't enjoyed a thread so much since the "camel toes."
 

Doitnow

Cyburbian
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16
Ohhh!!
The argument/debate seems to have gone quite ahead, I must say.
But heres an old joke about british english( I hope some of you find it funny and hope the Brits dont mind and also the brit accent lovers.

If a Brit says
" I am light to die..."
He means
'I am late today'

Some expert can comment on that!

Now althought i dont find it funny myslef( somebody told me this more than a decade ago) i think its htey way tomake someone understand how accents can be picked up.

Well well well...

PS
Michelle , I would definitely want the 'h' in my name and with the like the 'h' in 'Hardly' :)
 
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Maheep Singh Thapar said:
PS
Michelle , I would definitely want the 'h' in my name and with the like the 'h' in 'Hardly' :) [/B]
Oh, that's funny. That wasn't actually how I meant that. I wondered which name you go by. I know that not all cultures put the surname last. I didn't know if Maheep was your given name or surname. But your answer is funny, given the topic.
 

Doitnow

Cyburbian
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496
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16
Well Michele

My name is at it appears at the bottom of every message.

First name: Maheep
Middle Name: Singh
Surname : Thapar

All have different meanings and stand for different reasons.
I can explain but only if you are interested because it may be a long story.

But i sure agree with Tom about this thread being funny. Although some of your posts are really long and require patience to finish with all due respect. It does show the amount of seriousness that you are taking in this topic .

Bye
 

jresta

Cyburbian
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1,474
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23
you guys didn't hear the story about Rusty Wallace walking into a department store in southern California?

He asked if they had the kind of clothes NASCAR fans might appreciate . . . the befuddled sales clerk went to ask his supervisor if the store carried any rice wire.
 

carlomarx

Cyburbian
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85
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One time, I was complaining about all the exceptions to rules in a foreign language long ago, and I was asked the following:

If teachers teach, and bowlers bowl, why don't fingers fing?

Or hammers-- do they ham?

...

I had no response.

Engalish make-a no sense neither.
 
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Maheep Singh Thapar said:
Well Michele

My name is at it appears at the bottom of every message.

First name: Maheep
Middle Name: Singh
Surname : Thapar

All have different meanings and stand for different reasons.
I can explain but only if you are interested because it may be a long story.
Oh, I might well find it interesting. But it might be better to e-mail it to me. I don't know that anyone else wants to hear it.

While we are giving anecdotes, here is one that is a little off topic:
In a homeschooling forum, people began talking about visual learners and how they percieve words and that some words "look" very off-color. Someone gave the example of a town named "Scotrun" on a map that looked to them, at first glance, like "scrotum". So I told the following story:

For a few months, I had the dubious privilege of living in a town in Germany called Dampfach. It may not look that bad in written form but it tends to sound just terrible when you say it to an American. The American ear tends to not distinguish the sound at the end of the word correctly and they tend to hear it as a "k" sound. Americans tend to hear the first part of this word as "dumb" and the second part as a word that I can't say in a nice forum with clean language, but it starts with an "F" and ends in "ck".

The worst was trying to tell the minister where I lived and getting a "What did you just say?!!!" kind of reaction. Fortunately, he had a good sense of humor -- especially since the amusement was at my expense.
 
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