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#2667 - 05/22/00 06:40 PM Re: usage panels
Rubrick Offline
addict

Registered: 05/18/00
Posts: 679
Loc: Somewhere outside New York
You're telling me!! Apart from a few people whom I recognise - I see the the name of the prominent astronomer, Carl Sagan Professor of Astronomy and Space Sciences; writer; recipient, Pulitzer Prize

listed amongst this illustrious group.

The only problem is that Carl has been six feet under for about five years now. I wonder how many others on the panel are vertically-challenged?

I'm being flippant. I hope to get a chance to read the ways they reach a consensus asap.

I'm a bit sceptical (yes, it is an accepted form of skeptical) about the different methods to determine the courses of the diverging branches of US/UK English. To be blunt - why bastardise a common language? Sure, slang and local dialect play a big part in the development of English in the US but what are the Usage panel trying to achieve?? I have never heard of a similar group on this side of the pond.



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#2668 - 05/23/00 03:21 PM Re: Decimate
juanmaria Offline
member

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 163
Loc: Malaga, Spain.
The thing is whether those changes of use or meaning are for better or for worse. Itís a subjective thing, what for some people is language evolution for others is bastardization.
As I told you before I donít like when a word or expression starts being misused by the media or by some fashionable group of people and this misuse catches and becomes a normal practice. But, maybe, itís an excessive conservativeness of mine. I want to think that itís the way language evolves but I canít help not liking it.


Juan Maria.

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#2669 - 05/23/00 03:22 PM Re: shifting meanings
juanmaria Offline
member

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 163
Loc: Malaga, Spain.
I didnít know this use of chauvinist and I canít help disliking it. Iíve just made a post about this subject but this example of yours fits perfectly in what I wrote before.

Juan Maria.

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#2670 - 05/23/00 04:13 PM Re: usage panels
tsuwm Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/03/00
Posts: 10521
Loc: this too shall pass
>>The only problem is that Carl has been six feet under for about five years now. I wonder how many others on the panel are vertically-challenged?<<

quite a few, actually -- this edition of the AHD was published in '96 and several of the panelists have "bought the farm" since then (they're all *ed on the list). By all means check out the other link; I found it very helpful in understanding what the usage panel is about.

We're skating around the edges here of how our language evolves; usages become sometimes broader, sometimes narrower; old words no longer suffice because of these shifts, so new ones are borrowed or coined; some perfectly good words fall into desuetude. Not to beat a dead horse, but it's how we arrived at 500,000 words! (OED estimate)

BTW, I *like* what's happened to decimate; the original sense isn't all that useful to me, other then as an etymological point of interest. On the other hand, I *hate* what's been done to chauvinist in the US!

"What's another word for Thesaurus?" -Steven Wright

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#2671 - 05/23/00 04:23 PM Re: usage panels
jmh Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 03/22/00
Posts: 1981
The group you describe sounds like the one they have in France. The only difference is that in France they are creating new words to avoid the incursion of the monoculture "le weekend" etc.

Wasn't there a panel which was set up in the USA to make spelling simpler "donut" and "thru" for example. Do you know a link that discussed the simplification of spelling?


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#2672 - 05/24/00 03:30 AM Re: usage panels
jmh Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 03/22/00
Posts: 1981
Here's a link which discusses the early days of the simplified spelling movement (for those of us who are enthusiastic but not expert).

http://www.uta.fi/FAST/US1/P1/ahonen.html




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#2673 - 05/24/00 05:47 AM Re: Decimate
Rubrick Offline
addict

Registered: 05/18/00
Posts: 679
Loc: Somewhere outside New York
> The thing is whether those changes of use or meaning are for better or for worse. Itís a subjective thing, what for some
people is language evolution for others is bastardization.
As I told you before I donít like when a word or expression starts being misused by the media or by some fashionable
group of people and this misuse catches and becomes a normal practice. But, maybe, itís an excessive
conservativeness of mine. I want to think that itís the way language evolves but I canít help not liking it.

A very good and valid point, Juanmaria. However, I'm not all that Black and white. Language evolution is all well and fine and inevitable BUT if you have a common language used in many far-flung countries of the world (I'll use English as the obvious example) and those countries adopt differing definitions for certain words then the whole language will eventually fall into chaos and confusion. A standard has to be adopted to prevent word definitions from deviating too far from their original meanings no matter how appealing they may seem in their present, 'adopted' form. We have standards for measurement, time zones even computers - why not words too? Okay, we do have standards for words but they are often overlooked.


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#2674 - 05/24/00 06:47 AM Re: Decimate
juanmaria Offline
member

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 163
Loc: Malaga, Spain.
What puzzles me is that really I agree with you. But Iím not completely happy with myself thinking this way because when I think about language standardization -I really love standards- I consider that if this practice had been enforced by the old Romans I would be speaking Latin instead of Spanish and the world would be deprived of such a beautiful languages as French Italian or Portuguese.
As you can see Iím totally mixed-up with that question, as happens me with almost every other thing in life.


Juan Maria.

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#2675 - 05/24/00 08:44 AM Globalisation
jmh Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 03/22/00
Posts: 1981
> BUT if you have a common language used in many far-flung countries of the world (I'll use English as the obvious example) and those countries adopt differing definitions for certain words then the whole language will eventually fall into chaos and confusion.

Hasn't the cat already been let out of the bag? Aren't our languages already different. I see it as slightly sad that we are heading towards more standardisation. Before today's fast communications a word might only travel a few miles - look at the many local variations for a bread roll. Now a new word, coined in Melbourne or in Silicon Valley is conveyed to Delhi almost as easily as Denver.

The English that is spoken in Delhi relates to a colonial heritage but it has moved on and become theirs in the same way that the language of London, Washington DC and Canberra belongs to the people who live in those countries. As we try to converse with people from other countries more and buy our goods from the Internet the differences must be decreasing rather than increasing.



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#2676 - 05/24/00 08:51 AM Re: Decimate
Rubrick Offline
addict

Registered: 05/18/00
Posts: 679
Loc: Somewhere outside New York
> What puzzles me is that really I agree with you. But Iím not completely happy with myself thinking this way because
when I think about language standardization -I really love standards- I consider that if this practice had been enforced by
the old Romans I would be speaking Latin instead of Spanish and the world would be deprived of such a beautiful
languages as French Italian or Portuguese.

Ah, but they did. I am sure that these forementioned languages only developed into their present forms after the fall of the Roman Empire and the standards were no longer enforced. Just like the Germanic languages which have only really diverged in the past 700 years I can guess that the Latin languages are just as relatively new and the natural barriers of the Alps and the Pyrenees only aided their development. With the Moorish invasion I presume that there are also Arabic words included in present day Spanish?

We, in the present day, cannot afford to be so lax with our dealings with words. This noticeboard would become Babelised if each of us were to adopt separate meanings for our words and use them periodically in everyday use. The technology of instant messaging itself dictates that we adopt a standard that is understandable to everyone. The shrinking world means that languages are becoming more tightly knit and and they are less likely to devolve into progenic entities than was common over the past millenium.

But I don't mean to sound pedantic. This is purely a speculative opinion ;^)


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