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#114560 - 10/26/03 10:28 PM Two questions  
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Te Ika a Maui
FirstIs it me, or are these just trucker hats and tuques?
What does that mean?

Second
"Since the Greek phrase includes an article, some critics have argued that the phrase the hoi polloi is redundant. But phrases borrowed from other languages are often reanalyzed in English as single words. For example, a number of Arabic noun phrases were borrowed into English as simple nouns. The Arabic element al- means “the,” and appears in English nouns such as alcohol and alchemy. Thus, since no one would consider a phrase such as “the alcohol” to be redundant, criticizing the hoi polloi on similar grounds seems pedantic."


Isn't the above sound? Why do some insist that hoi polloi is redundant but alcohol isn't?


#114561 - 10/26/03 11:51 PM als well that ends well  
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Just for the record - "algebra" is another articulated word of Arabic extraction.


#114562 - 10/27/03 01:00 AM Re: als well that ends well  
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Just FTR, we don't normally say "the algebra" or "the alcohol". We *do normally say "the hoi polloi".

But irregardless of that, those who weep and wail and rend their garments over such matters *know that hoi is Greek for the (although I doubt if one in ten could say what case, number, and gender); they parbly don't even bother to parse alcohol or algebra.


#114563 - 10/27/03 01:05 AM Re: Two questions  
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Allo Max,

In answer to your first question.

I went to the Von Dutch site and was surprised to see that the hats and tuques displayed there were just like every hat worn by trukers - except that they have Von Dutch printed on the front. I don't understand what on earth was so cool about them. And the other hats looked like ordinary tuques.

But hey, isn't that what uber-fashion is about - why pay five bucks for a hat when you can pay 50 bucks and be cool because of the name-tag attached to it.

I really don't get it.




#114564 - 10/27/03 04:58 AM Re: als well that ends pedanticity  
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this too shall pass
I'm so pleased that no one has mentioned "The El Alamein battle".


#114565 - 10/27/03 05:24 AM Re: als well that ends pedanticity  
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Te Ika a Maui
> "The El Alamein battle".

Ah, but that famous inicident in Trans-Tasman history is normally called "The battle of El Alamein."


#114566 - 10/27/03 11:01 AM Re: als well that ends pedanticity  
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Or just "Alamein". Nobody in his or her right mind from Australasia would consider "Alamein" to refer to the place itself, today. I've heard old sojers say "I fought at Alamein."

But as for the others, algebra, alcohol and alchemy, the "al" portion is not brought to your attention by being separated from its noun, so unless you are an Arabic speaker you wouldn't even realise the implications. And English has such a terrible habit of grabbing something and running with it without any further analysis. I don't know what case "hoi" is, either (never studied Greek, me), but I did understand that it meant "the" or "those" or "this" or "that", depending on context, and that "polloi" meant "the people". But I still happily refer to "the hoi polloi"!

Ain't life grand?


#114567 - 10/27/03 11:15 AM Re: als well that ends pedanticity  
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And, while the al in alcohol, algebra, and alchemy is the definite article, do we have any reason to believe the Al in El Alamein is, too? According to AHD4 it's also known as Al Alamayn. The El is not the Spanish masculine definite article, which is what I thought tsuwm was getting at.

This ain't Torpenhow Hill.


#114568 - 10/27/03 11:22 AM Re: Arabic is all Greek to me ..  
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What a bunch of solipsistic sods those Arabs are, using a script which doesn't readily translate, letter for letter, into the Western alphabet! Tsk, tsk.


#114569 - 10/27/03 02:33 PM Re: what I was getting at  
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Yes, "hoi" means "the" in Greek, but the first 5 citations in the OED, and the most famous use of this phrase in English (in Gilbert and Sullivan's operetta _Iolanthe_), put "the" in front of "hoi". This is not a unique case: words "alchemy", "alcohol", "algebra", "alligator", and "lacrosse" incorporate articles from other languages, but can still be prefixed in English with "the". "The El Alamein battle" (which occurred in Egypt during World War II), sometimes proffered as a phrase with three articles, actually contains only two: _alamein_ is Arabic for "two flags" (which is appropriate for a town on the border between Egypt and Libya), and does not contain the Arabic article _al_. [from alt.english.usage FAQ]

>we don't normally say "the algebra" or "the alcohol"

maybe not as nouns but:
the algebra test was hard
the alcohol content would have killed a smaller man
the El Alamein defenses were flawed

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