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5
votes
5answers
140 views

When did 'venereal disease' become STI?

Why is it that the term venereal disease has been dropped in favour of sexually transmitted infection, or 'STI' for short? The change seemed to date from the advent of AIDS. Was it that the word ...
0
votes
3answers
64 views

On the evolution of the meaning of “few”

Was the word "few" used exclusively to refer to groups of eight people (or things) at some point of time? There is a well-known verse in the New Testament which implies the plausibility of such a ...
-2
votes
1answer
56 views

What did the word “arcade” mean before video games? [closed]

I was browsing a document on the history of Leicestershire in the UK. About halfway down the page, in the "Leicester in the 19th Century" section, it said: Silver Arcade was built in 1899. What ...
2
votes
1answer
49 views

Pronunciation: is there a reason why 'gn' in 'reigning' is pronounced [n] while in 'regnant' it is pronounced [gn]?

Both 'reigning' and 'regnant' are related to the same Latin noun 'regnum'. Why is 'gn' is pronounced [n] in the first word but [gn] in the second?
1
vote
1answer
89 views

Why did the past tense ending -t change to -ed?

My posts are often questions for further knowledge about reasons for language change. In this extract from 1750, there are three variations on the past tense form. Once again, I am grateful if anyone ...
54
votes
5answers
7k views

If the letter J is only 400–500 years old, was there a J sound that preceded the design of the letter?

I understand that the letter "J" is relatively new — perhaps 400–500 years old. But since there has long been important names that begin with J, such as Jesus, Joshua, Justinian, etc., and which ...
1
vote
2answers
162 views

When and how has the word 'nigger' lost its neutral meaning? [duplicate]

The word 'nigger' comes from Latin 'nigrum' (black). It's quite a neutral description of the external characteristic of a person. There's no reason to be offended by it, just like (normally) nobody is ...
0
votes
1answer
62 views

Is there a North American English language authority? [duplicate]

If I took the SATs and they marked something wrong that I thought was right and because of that I didn't get into Harvard so I sued that I wanted my SAT score increased because they were actually ...
6
votes
1answer
103 views

What happened first: “ye”/“you” merging to “you”, or “thou”/“thee” falling ou of common use?

Simple subject "I": I went. Replacing it with "me": Me went. That sounds strikingly wrong. We use it for fake "caveman talk". However, there was a time when it worked like this: 1st ...
0
votes
2answers
279 views

Is English actually a pidgin or creole? [closed]

Because Middle English was a hodgepodge mélange of Old English (a Germanic tongue) and Norman French (a Romance language), it seems like Middle English was actually a kind of pidgin or creole. My ...
10
votes
1answer
221 views

Come on, don’t be such a nimrod!

According to the OED, the word English Nimrod is derived from the Hebrew, where in Genesis 10:8–9 he is described as ‘a mighty one in the earth’ and ‘a mighty hunter before the Lord’. It is ...
-1
votes
1answer
106 views

Why don’t “snow” and “plow” — well, or “plough” — rhyme? [duplicate]

They (sometimes?) have the same ending when spelt but don’t rhyme when said. Why is that?
7
votes
6answers
401 views

Ways to Memorize “Discreet” and “Discrete” [closed]

I have a question about discreet and discrete. People tend to get these two words mixed up, and I would like to help them memorize these two words. Discrete: unconnected; separate Discreet: ...
0
votes
3answers
115 views

Payed or paid, is there a rule for this change in vowels?

Why do some verbs combine the "y" and the "e" in the past tense, while others retain "ye"? For example, pay to paid, but flay to flayed? Is there a rule for this change? Any help would be ...
1
vote
0answers
326 views

Why are Kansas and Arkansas pronounced differently? [closed]

Arkansas is typically pronounced like so: “ahr-kuhn-saw”   IPA: [ˈɑɹkənˌsɔː] However, Kansas is typically pronounced like this: “kan-zuhs”             IPA: [ˈkænzɨs] Why are these two ...
0
votes
1answer
218 views

On English Phrases with Essential Changes in Meaning [closed]

In any living language the change in meanings of the words and phrases is a natural phenomenon. But sometimes this change is very essential and a certain word or phrase loses its original meaning ...
4
votes
1answer
540 views

English words of Latin origin: Did they replace existing words?

According to Wikipedia, the Latin influence on English builds more than half of its vocabulary. The same source furnishes a percentage of 26% for words of Germanic origin. Although I can easily ...
1
vote
0answers
836 views

Why do certain words have the same type of spelling but different pronunciation? [duplicate]

There are words like 'but' , 'cut' etc pronounced in the same way, but 'put' is pronounced differently. Put has the same structure as but and cut (One 'u' between two consonants). So why is it ...
7
votes
1answer
2k views

Why “hoist” in “Hoist with one's own petard”?

He was hoist with his own petard is one of my father's favorite phrases. As a child I had developed a vague understanding of the idiom in which petard was a kind of flag, which is why it was hoist, ...
11
votes
4answers
353 views

How was sexual intercourse referred to before 'sex'?

It seems that the word "sex" in the context of sexual intercourse is a fairly recent development. How would sexual intercourse have been referred to before the 1920's? Coitus? Is there a more casual ...
2
votes
2answers
313 views

What happened around 1700 that transformed / changed the English language?

When looking at examples listed in OED it is very noticeable that English differs greatly before 1700s and after (roughly) and it becomes recognizable and very similar to modern starting roughly from ...
1
vote
1answer
106 views

On the use of “technique” as a mass noun

The following passage appears in the preface to the first edition of P. Morse’s Vibration and Sound (1936). The vacuum tube and the other applications of electronics have provided immensely ...
12
votes
4answers
851 views

What is the origin of the word “conk”?

Is it obsolete to use this word? Where does it come from? I couldn't find the origin of this term. Can I use the phrase "The machine conked out" or should I replace conked out with something else?