Wordsmith.org: the magic of words

Wordsmith Talk

About Us | What's New | Search | Site Map | Contact Us  

Page 4 of 4 < 1 2 3 4
Topic Options
#203351 - 11/19/11 09:43 AM Re: the ungrammatical walk at nigh [Re: bexter]
goofy Offline
member

Registered: 01/06/08
Posts: 132
Orwell was a great writer, but he didn't know much about language. Which wasn't really his fault, the field of linguistics was not very well known in the 40s.

For instance

Quote:
But an effect can become a cause, reinforcing the original cause and producing the same effect in an intensified form, and so on indefinitely. A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, and then fail all the more completely because he drinks. It is rather the same thing that is happening to the English language. It becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts.

To me this looks like linguistic determinism. There just isn't evidence that language shapes thought to such an extreme extent.

Quote:
Another example is the hammer and the anvil, now always used with the implication that the anvil gets the worst of it. In real life it is always the anvil that breaks the hammer, never the other way about: a writer who stopped to think what he was saying would avoid perverting the original phrase.

This is the etymological fallacy. The origin of a word or phrase is irrelevant to how it is currently used.

Quote:
But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought. A bad usage can spread by tradition and imitation even among people who should and do know better.

All language is spread by tradition and imitation. This is how language works. If it was possible that normal language use led to corruption, then why wasn't language corrupted hundreds or thousands of years ago?

Quote:
In addition, the passive voice is wherever possible used in preference to the active

I assume this is a joke: using the passive in the very sentence where he's talking about how the passive is overused. But Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage notes

Quote:
Bryant 1962 reports three statistical studies of passive versus active sentences in various periodicals; the highest incidence of passive constructions was 13 percent. Orwell runs to a little over 20 percent in "Politics and the English Language."

Orwell's essay, where he warns us not to use the passive voice, has more passive clauses than any periodical. What that intentional?


Edited by goofy (11/19/11 11:35 AM)

Top
#203370 - 11/20/11 03:57 AM Re: the ungrammatical walk at nigh [Re: Umber]
Rhubarb Commando Offline
old hand

Registered: 11/13/11
Posts: 1074
Loc: Lancaster, UK
I'm really going to have to read up on Orwell's essays - up to now I've only read his books. The discussion, above, has inspired me!

But back to the fabric topic; how about "Cotton on," meaning to understand - probably belatedly - what someone else is talking about, or doing.
E.g., "It took me a while to cotton on to the fact that you were drowning, not waving."
_________________________
I'm immortal until proven otherwise

Top
#203373 - 11/20/11 07:27 AM Re: the ungrammatical walk at nigh [Re: Umber]
Faldage Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/01/00
Posts: 13783
Ooh. I like that one.

The OED has some verb senses for cotton that look like they might have shifted to the modern sense and it does come from the same root as the fabric or plant from which the fabric is derived. AHD4 is a little more helpful in the etymology. We have but have not yet dewrapped the AHD5.

Top
#203380 - 11/20/11 03:32 PM Re: the ungrammatical walk at nigh [Re: Faldage]
Rhubarb Commando Offline
old hand

Registered: 11/13/11
Posts: 1074
Loc: Lancaster, UK
I have just seen in the dictionary, Cotton up to, meaning "to make friendly advances toward." This is a completely unknown usage so far as I am concerned.
Is anyone here familiar with it?
_________________________
I'm immortal until proven otherwise

Top
#203381 - 11/20/11 03:42 PM Re: the ungrammatical walk at nigh [Re: Faldage]
tsuwm Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/03/00
Posts: 10508
Loc: this too shall pass
then there is the form "cotton to", meaning (idiomatically) to like; approve of, accept, or tolerate.

Top
#203384 - 11/20/11 04:02 PM Re: the ungrammatical walk at nigh [Re: Rhubarb Commando]
LukeJavan8 Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 06/23/08
Posts: 6039
Loc: Land of the Flat Water
Originally Posted By: Rhubarb Commando
I have just seen in the dictionary, Cotton up to, meaning "to make friendly advances toward." This is a completely unknown usage so far as I am concerned.
Is anyone here familiar with it?


I had an uncle who frequently used it.
_________________________
----please, draw me a sheep----

Top
#203393 - 11/21/11 08:31 AM Re: the ungrammatical walk at nigh [Re: Rhubarb Commando]
zmjezhd Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 08/13/05
Posts: 3286
Loc: R'lyeh
Is anyone here familiar with [cotton up to]?

I've heard it from speakers of American English.
_________________________
Ceci n'est pas un seing.

Top
Page 4 of 4 < 1 2 3 4


Moderator:  Jackie 
Forum Stats
8688 Members
16 Forums
13783 Topics
212993 Posts

Max Online: 3341 @ 12/09/11 02:15 PM
Newest Members
pqrstu777191, csmoore, Jane Luckner, anjela, MR LOGOPHILE
8687 Registered Users
Who's Online
1 registered (jenny jenny), 35 Guests and 1 Spider online.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Top Posters (30 Days)
wofahulicodoc 76
LukeJavan8 59
endymion6 51
jenny jenny 47
Tromboniator 8
Faldage 5
csmoore 1
Mercur10 1
JTaz 1
Jane Luckner 1
April
Su M Tu W Th F Sa
1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30

Disclaimer: Wordsmith.org is not responsible for views expressed on this site. Use of this forum is at your own risk and liability - you agree to hold Wordsmith.org and its associates harmless as a condition of using it.

Home | Today's Word | Yesterday's Word | Subscribe | FAQ | Archives | Search | Feedback
Wordsmith Talk | Wordsmith Chat

© 2014 Wordsmith