Language usage that annoys you

General discussion about learning languages
Speakeasy
Blue Belt
Posts: 627
Joined: Mon Jul 20, 2015 5:19 pm
Location: Canada (Montréal region)
Languages: English (N), French (C2). Studying: Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Dutch, Polish, and Russian; all with widely varying degrees of application, enthusiasm, and success.
x 1284

Re: Language usage that annoys you

Postby Speakeasy » Fri Dec 16, 2016 10:41 pm

galaxyrocker wrote:
Tomás wrote:"Disenfranchised" sounds wrong to me. Say "disfranchised". Why add the unnecessary syllable?
Because it's composed of dis- and enfranchise, not dis- and franchise. Franchise exists in my dialect, certainly, but only as it relates to fast-food franchises and such.

In my view, Tomás has submitted a word-pair that many grammarians would support. A similar example would be "disembark", whereas "debark" would be the more correct term. The English language abounds with such curiosities; for example, since my childhood, I have never been able to understand the (apparent) necessity of the particularly bizarre group: "flammable, inflammable, uninflammable." That is, since the prefix "in" normally has a negative or privative force, especially in adjectives and their derivatives (e.g., inattention; indefensible; inexpensive; inorganic; invariable), "inflammable" should have the (accepted) meaning of "uninflammable" (note the double negative here!), and the latter should not exist.
0 x

Online
User avatar
Serpent
Black Belt - 2nd Dan
Posts: 2330
Joined: Sat Jul 18, 2015 10:54 am
Location: Moskova
Languages: heritage
Russian (native); Belarusian, Polish

fluent or close: Finnish+ (certified C1), English; Portuguese, Spanish, German+, Italian+
learning: Croatian+, Ukrainian, Czech; Romanian+, Galician; Danish, Swedish
exploring: Latin, Karelian, Catalan, Dutch, Chaucer's English
+ means exploring the dialects/variants
x 2968
Contact:

Re: Language usage that annoys you

Postby Serpent » Sat Dec 17, 2016 1:09 am

AFAIU, inflammable appeared first. It comes from Latin and is related to inflammation.
However, the in- prefix was seen as ambiguous because in many cases it's a negative one, and since mixing up things that go into flames and things that don't is very dangerous, flammable appeared. But inflammable remained in use.
(Who are those "grammarians" anyway? Linguists actually tend to be fascinated by this kind of stuff)

Offtopic but your prescriptive posts make me curious about your username. Why not "Speakeasily"? :)
1 x
: 2 / 40 Budva na pjenu od mora: 3rd season (Croatian/Montenegrin)
LyricsTraining now offers Catalan, Turkish and Japanese romaji

Tomás
Blue Belt
Posts: 554
Joined: Sat Oct 10, 2015 9:48 pm
Languages: English (N). Currently studying Spanish (intermediate), French (false beginner).
x 631

Re: Language usage that annoys you

Postby Tomás » Sat Dec 17, 2016 2:52 am

galaxyrocker wrote:
Tomás wrote:
galaxyrocker wrote:
Tomás wrote:"Disenfranchised" sounds wrong to me. Say "disfranchised". Why add the unnecessary syllable?


Because it's composed of dis- and enfranchise, not dis- and franchise.


That is incorrect. "Disfranchise" is the original term; "disenfranchise" has subsequently been accepted as a substitute.



Whether you believe it or not that is the etymology 1 2. Whether or not "disfranchise" was the original term, the new one simply was formed by "adding a syllable". And, besides, "disenfranchise" as been around since 1640, hardly a "short" period of time, and I would wager it's the more common of the two.


RIght, that's my point--it was formed by adding an unnecessary syllable. The lack of efficiency annoys me. Just like my previous example of "usage" when "use" would do. I am annoyed by this, but only slightly. I wouldn't even mention it except the thread title has invited me to.
0 x

Speakeasy
Blue Belt
Posts: 627
Joined: Mon Jul 20, 2015 5:19 pm
Location: Canada (Montréal region)
Languages: English (N), French (C2). Studying: Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Dutch, Polish, and Russian; all with widely varying degrees of application, enthusiasm, and success.
x 1284

Re: Language usage that annoys you

Postby Speakeasy » Sat Dec 17, 2016 5:22 am

Serpent wrote: ... inflammable ... comes from Latin and is related to inflammation ... your prescriptive posts make ...
I recall very clearly that, as a child, I questioned the "logic" of the inconsistent use of the prefix "in" in words such as those listed in my post and "inflammable" and "uninflammable." Although I was not aware of it at the time, my subsequently-diagnosed Asperger's Syndrome (94th percentile, no less!) caused me to focus (obsessively) on rules. Thus, I was quite disappointed by the inability of my elders to adequately explain this inconsistency and, more importantly, by their insensitivity in face of my demands that they should make it disappear. As an adolescent, I learned to use an etymological dictionary and was further dismayed -- no, horrified -- to learn that, not only had my ancestors allowed such blasphemy to enter their native tongue through the language of the invader(s), but they had compounded their treachery by not expunging it once they regained their freedom. Noah Webster was right; English spelling rules are unnecessarily complex and highly inconsistent ... he even advocated that the United States abandon the English language.

Now then, in response to your off-topic remark, might I assume that, despite the touch of condescension that you added concerning my "prescriptive posts", you would readily agree that the adoption of a "prescriptivist" or a "descriptivist" point of view is a matter of personal preference and that neither position can be proved as being more correct or having greater value than the other? Being a gentle soul, I will not reply to your mockery of my Username.
0 x

Online
User avatar
Serpent
Black Belt - 2nd Dan
Posts: 2330
Joined: Sat Jul 18, 2015 10:54 am
Location: Moskova
Languages: heritage
Russian (native); Belarusian, Polish

fluent or close: Finnish+ (certified C1), English; Portuguese, Spanish, German+, Italian+
learning: Croatian+, Ukrainian, Czech; Romanian+, Galician; Danish, Swedish
exploring: Latin, Karelian, Catalan, Dutch, Chaucer's English
+ means exploring the dialects/variants
x 2968
Contact:

Re: Language usage that annoys you

Postby Serpent » Sat Dec 17, 2016 11:34 am

I wasn't mocking it, I'm genuinely curious about its meaning.
0 x
: 2 / 40 Budva na pjenu od mora: 3rd season (Croatian/Montenegrin)
LyricsTraining now offers Catalan, Turkish and Japanese romaji

Cainntear
Blue Belt
Posts: 747
Joined: Thu Jul 30, 2015 11:04 am
Location: Scotland
Languages: English(N)
Advanced: French,Spanish, Scottish Gaelic
Intermediate: Italian, Catalan, Corsican
Basic: Welsh
Dabbling: Polish, Russian etc
x 1468
Contact:

Re: Language usage that annoys you

Postby Cainntear » Sat Dec 17, 2016 12:26 pm

Speakeasy wrote:
galaxyrocker wrote:
Tomás wrote:"Disenfranchised" sounds wrong to me. Say "disfranchised". Why add the unnecessary syllable?
Because it's composed of dis- and enfranchise, not dis- and franchise. Franchise exists in my dialect, certainly, but only as it relates to fast-food franchises and such.

In my view, Tomás has submitted a word-pair that many grammarians would support. A similar example would be "disembark", whereas "debark" would be the more correct term. The English language abounds with such curiosities; for example, since my childhood, I have never been able to understand the (apparent) necessity of the particularly bizarre group: "flammable, inflammable, uninflammable." That is, since the prefix "in" normally has a negative or privative force, especially in adjectives and their derivatives (e.g., inattention; indefensible; inexpensive; inorganic; invariable), "inflammable" should have the (accepted) meaning of "uninflammable" (note the double negative here!), and the latter should not exist.

Exactly, just like "inbound" planes go nowhere and "incoming" messages never arrive.

Also (to bring the discussion back to Latinate terms) "inauguration" doesn't welcome someone to their new post.

:lol:

What we've got here is two different prefixes that are homonymous. "in-" (Latin) meaning "not" and "in-" (in both Latin and Germanic) meaning "in". The second form also alternates with "en-" for the same meaning.
3 x
A year of Tatoeba recordings: 40 / 365 One donated recording every day in 2017.

Cainntear
Blue Belt
Posts: 747
Joined: Thu Jul 30, 2015 11:04 am
Location: Scotland
Languages: English(N)
Advanced: French,Spanish, Scottish Gaelic
Intermediate: Italian, Catalan, Corsican
Basic: Welsh
Dabbling: Polish, Russian etc
x 1468
Contact:

Re: Language usage that annoys you

Postby Cainntear » Sat Dec 17, 2016 12:34 pm

Serpent wrote:I wasn't mocking it, I'm genuinely curious about its meaning.

A speakeasy was the name for a bar during the Prohibition era in the US -- i.e. when drinking alcohol was illegal.
2 x
A year of Tatoeba recordings: 40 / 365 One donated recording every day in 2017.

Cainntear
Blue Belt
Posts: 747
Joined: Thu Jul 30, 2015 11:04 am
Location: Scotland
Languages: English(N)
Advanced: French,Spanish, Scottish Gaelic
Intermediate: Italian, Catalan, Corsican
Basic: Welsh
Dabbling: Polish, Russian etc
x 1468
Contact:

Re: Language usage that annoys you

Postby Cainntear » Sat Dec 17, 2016 12:55 pm

Mooby wrote:The phrase: '...at this moment in time'.

Why specify that a unit of time is found....in time.
Where else would you expect to find a unit of time? In the fridge? Under the bed?
Why not just say '...at this moment' and leave it that?
Or possibly change it to '....at this point in time' if you really have to say more.
Maybe it's just me that finds this annoying, and perhaps my preference for concise language can make me an obsessional nitpicker.

Rant over :mrgreen:

It's about historical semantic drift. "Moment" originally had a much wider meaning. Consider "momentous" -- that's about something being of extreme importance, not something only existing for a short period of time. A moving body has "momentum", and to start a body moving, you have to overcome the "moment of inertia". The father of the protagonist in the book The Prisoner of Zenda uses the line "colour is of no moment in a man" to state that hair colour is unimportant.

Moment was originally a generic term relating to weights an measures, and in Western Europe has since become more and more closely associated with time, just as happened with minutes (a measure of minuteness) and seconds (a second-order measure of minuteness), although they are both used as subdivisions of an angle when measuring in degrees (prior to the introduction of the metric system, you'd probably have encountered a lot more types of minute than the two remaining today).

So "moment in time" is most likely a fixed hangover from when "moment" had a much broader meaning. My original understanding of the phrase through its use was that it had an implication of "momentousness", that it referred to some crucial point where a major change occurred, but that this has slowly been lost as people started using it to try to sound clever, and turned it into a synonym for "point in time"
2 x
A year of Tatoeba recordings: 40 / 365 One donated recording every day in 2017.

Cainntear
Blue Belt
Posts: 747
Joined: Thu Jul 30, 2015 11:04 am
Location: Scotland
Languages: English(N)
Advanced: French,Spanish, Scottish Gaelic
Intermediate: Italian, Catalan, Corsican
Basic: Welsh
Dabbling: Polish, Russian etc
x 1468
Contact:

Re: Language usage that annoys you

Postby Cainntear » Sat Dec 17, 2016 1:11 pm

Mooby wrote:Maybe it's just me that finds this annoying, and perhaps my preference for concise language can make me an obsessional nitpicker.

Also, redundancy and meaningless fillers are an essential part of language, as they give us more time to think of what to say. When I was a child, my mum used to try to stop us umming, erring and ahhing and told us to "talk properly". She objected to phrases with seeming redundancy like "one moment in time" (the Whitney Houston Olympic anthem was in the charts when I was at school). But if you follow that route, you end up unable to say anything, because the task becomes too hard for the brain. Either that or you just end up saying lots of words with little meaning, which is exactly what you were trying to avoid in the first place.

Notice that unnecessarily long phrases like "at this moment in time", "as far as I'm concerned" etc are particularly prevalent at the start of a speaker's turn, and there are certain phrases that can only be used at the start, such as "well that's all well and good, but"

What I'm trying to get at is that one of their key functions is to allow you to start speaking, and thus stop anyone else interrupting while your brain sorts out what it's trying to say. At the end of the day, you may have a different set of phrases you use to carry out the same strategy, but when all is said and done yours will be no less meaningless than theirs, so the way I see it, the best thing to do is to accept other people's use of the language
3 x
A year of Tatoeba recordings: 40 / 365 One donated recording every day in 2017.

Online
User avatar
Serpent
Black Belt - 2nd Dan
Posts: 2330
Joined: Sat Jul 18, 2015 10:54 am
Location: Moskova
Languages: heritage
Russian (native); Belarusian, Polish

fluent or close: Finnish+ (certified C1), English; Portuguese, Spanish, German+, Italian+
learning: Croatian+, Ukrainian, Czech; Romanian+, Galician; Danish, Swedish
exploring: Latin, Karelian, Catalan, Dutch, Chaucer's English
+ means exploring the dialects/variants
x 2968
Contact:

Re: Language usage that annoys you

Postby Serpent » Sat Dec 17, 2016 1:12 pm

Cainntear wrote:
Serpent wrote:I wasn't mocking it, I'm genuinely curious about its meaning.

A speakeasy was the name for a bar during the Prohibition era in the US -- i.e. when drinking alcohol was illegal.
:oops: should have looked it up.
Still fascinating how this word doesn't appear to bother Speakeasy, though.
0 x
: 2 / 40 Budva na pjenu od mora: 3rd season (Croatian/Montenegrin)
LyricsTraining now offers Catalan, Turkish and Japanese romaji


Return to “General Language Discussion”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: leosmith, LesRonces, MorkTheFiddle and 1 guest