Questions about how English has changed.

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67 views

Why does U sound like W in words like “penguin”?

A semivowel is a vowel that acts like a consonant (including only W and Y and yet U sounds like W sound in words such as penguin, sanguine, but not in guide. Can anyone tell me why?
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0answers
55 views

Why does the use of language change so much over time? [closed]

In our day and age we text and use different language than people in the past. Why do we change so much to adapt a new style of language?
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0answers
11 views

What is the origin of the progressive [duplicate]

What is the origin of the progressive form of the english verbs
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2answers
334 views

When did beast become a verb?

In recent times, people have started using the word beast as a verb (i.e., beast it, you've got to beast harder). Is there any information about when this trend started and how it came about?
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3answers
125 views

Does etymology have a word like cladistics?

A recent question on EL&U about a current hip-hop expression led my research into a meme that is evolving faster than drosophila. This expression and its variants have gone viral on internet ...
3
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3answers
207 views

Etymology of English “Achoo” relative to other sneezing onomatopoeiae

So I was recently curious about the sound that people sneeze with in other languages and was surprised to notice the difference between the English onomatopoetic word "Achoo" and that of other ...
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3answers
164 views

Criteria used to determine if a “Chinese inch” is an “inch”?

This is a follow-on question to "Term for construct in which adjective completely changes the meaning of its following noun?" Is a "Chinese inch" an "inch" or something entirely different in which ...
4
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4answers
425 views

What does “cyber-” actually mean?

I'm heading into the postgraduate phase of my Computer Science-oriented studies, and I can't put my finger on what this root means. According to Etymology Online it comes from Cybernetics, which in ...
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1answer
174 views

The origin word “English”? Language that dominated the beginning of English existence? [closed]

I've read so many questions in ELL on the origin of English words. But I've never found the origin of the word English itself. I'm also curious about the history of English as a language. I mean, in ...
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3answers
326 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 ...
4
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1answer
86 views

Has language begun to converge in the age of mass media?

I understand that this question may be perceived as a bit broad for this site, but I've decided to post it anyway. I figured that with the number of linguists, linguaphiles, and all-around language ...
3
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2answers
235 views

Is “because-noun” a new preposition?

There are a handful of articles suggesting that a new preposition has appeared in the form of "because-noun": The Atlantic Stan Carey Grammar Girl Isn't "Because (of)... whatever" a causitive? ...
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1answer
67 views

When did the distinction between the spoken and written English grammars became recognized?

It is generally accepted today that the grammars and vocabularies of the spoken and the written English differ in important ways. Is it known when this distinction between the English grammars become ...
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0answers
58 views

Use of *this* to refer to both sides of a telephone conversation? [closed]

By convention, complementary words like here/there and this/that are relative in their usage, i.e., their meaning depends on which side of the conversation they fall into. However, To introduce ...
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2answers
66 views

Language Evolution: Use of 'It'

If, as it is written in Oxford Dictionaries, 'it' can be used to identify a person, 'it’s me', 'it’s a boy', why are 'she' and 'he' still used and, furthermore, why are people still discussing as to ...
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2answers
1k views

Phrasal verb “be a thing”

I’m looking for the origin of the phrasal verb “to be a thing”. It means roughly “exist” or more specifically “be recognised” or “be a phenomenon”. I first noticed it around 2008–2009. Is ...
3
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3answers
314 views

Reasons for using the same word for people and language of a country?

Ever since my first days of learning English I have been puzzled by this simple phenomenon: Why the word "English" can both mean the English language, and the English people? Is there any historical ...
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0answers
105 views

Influence of the regulatory bodies in the English language [closed]

Where could I find/read about studies about the influence in English of the lack of regulatory bodies of its use and lexicon? It is easy to google and find long arguments on the topic. I am ...
3
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1answer
4k views

“Off on a tangent” vs. “off tangent.”

Tonight I heard someone say, "We're going off tangent here." I take this to be a mistaken conflation of "off on a tangent" with "off track." However, is a shift occurring? Is "off tangent" ...
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0answers
1k views

How should one use “awesome” today? [closed]

Lately I have been hearing the word awesome used in many places. I'm trying to figure out how it is used. It has already been discussed on this site a bit. See "When I'm sad, I stop ...
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2answers
418 views

What’s going on with “drink > drench”? Is it like “passage > passenger”?

Edit: I am looking for a particular linguistic term for this process (which here uses terminal palatalization to indicate such) of turning passive verbs like drink into active verbs like drench. I ...
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1answer
161 views

What is the exact meaning of “English”? Why this language identified as “English”? [closed]

It struck me while searching for the meaning of the word English: what could be the meaning of the word "English", and why is this language called "English"?
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3answers
691 views

is letter “y” derived from “ij”?

It is my intuition, that the origin of the letter y comes from ij based on the usage in Dutch where it very closely resembles ij in both sound and shape. I would go so far as to say it looks like a ...
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2answers
703 views

Recent grammar additions

A lot of questions have been dedicated to how evolution of English got many constructs of the old either fall out of use, merge, or evolve into different forms but still with 1:1 relation to original. ...
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0answers
189 views

How do words get concatenated? [closed]

Lots of words in the English language are or were two words originally. Somehow Nobody Erstwhile But many often conjoined words are not 'allowed'. The one that springs to mind is 'alot'. Why are ...
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1answer
261 views

At what usage level does a grammatical error become acceptable? [closed]

Is there any rule for the usage level of a grammatical error above which it is no longer treated as an error?
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1answer
2k views

What is the origin of “uh”, “um”, “erm” and “er”?

This question may be a better fit on linguistics.SE, but it pertains specifically to English fillers. Also, the question may have a more straightforward answer than what I'm expecting. TL;DR: Are ...
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2answers
573 views

Is English the only language that distinguishes thumbs from other fingers? [closed]

A Russian colleague of mine recently told me that English is the only language that actively distinguishes between fingers and thumbs by having a completely separate word. Her phrasing of it was ...
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2answers
5k views

The etymology of “religion” comes from “legere” meaning to read + “re” meaning again. Or does it? (more inside) [closed]

The etymology of religion as mentioned in the title comes from Etymonline. And that's very interesting. It makes sense too. My question is, how do the phrases, "to read", "to choose", "to gather", ...
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2answers
1k views

When did “crew” become a sport? When did “crew team” come into use?

When I was a child, there was a sport called rowing; if four or more people rowed together in the same boat, they would be known as a crew. At some point, either before or during my childhood, the ...
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2answers
940 views

What word describes our habit to use extremes in language, and what are its implications?

I have heard that in America, and likely elsewhere as well, we are beginning to be more gratuitous with our use of extreme words when not entirely accurate, such as the words "awesome", "always", ...
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1answer
5k views

Why is the “J” in San Jacinto pronounced like an English “J” instead of an “H” in Texas?

Many Spanish words taken into English have a "J" sounding like "H", but San Jacinto follows a different rule: San Jose La Jolla San Juan Jiminez Why is San Jacinto not pronounced San Hacinto in ...
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1answer
483 views

Why has “sware” become “swore”, “bare” “bore”, etc?

As far as I know, there are four verbs (swear, bear, tear, and wear) whose simple past forms used to be (archaically) sware, bare, tare, and ware; but are now exclusively swore, bore, tore, and wore. ...
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3answers
953 views

What is this an example of: “a napron” becomes “an apron”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: “A whole nother” way of looking at things I recently learned that the word apron was once apparently napron, but the current form has resulted from ...
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5answers
2k views

Is it possible for a new irregular verb to appear in English language?

Consider these verbs in past tense: faxed, emailed, googled they are all regular verbs made out of new nouns. Are there any new irregular verbs that I'm not aware of?
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3answers
200 views

Why is the word “before” vanishing from common use?

Just in the last four years, I've noticed that the word prior is increasingly used in place of before. Prior has become customary enough that people commonly leave off 'to' in employing it: "Most of ...
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2answers
878 views

Irregular verbs in English

The English language has a huge number of irregular verbs(~470). This is significantly more than other languages e.g. French (~130), German (~200) Irregular verbs make the English language ...
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0answers
117 views

Is there a U.S. equivalent or version of the Plain English Campaign? [closed]

I recently found out about the Plain English Campaign, a UK-based movement for simplification of document language. They advocate the use of plain English in corporate-to-consumer and ...
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3answers
955 views

Why has Southern US English all but abandoned adverb forms?

In Southern US English, adverb forms are almost always replaced by their adjective forms. For example: The journey was awful long. He's running real fast. He ran to the store quick. He ...
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2answers
1k views

When a foreign word or phrase becomes English [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What are the criteria to adopt new words into English? There are many words or phrases in English that are clearly of foreign origin yet become so commonplace they are ...
7
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2answers
992 views

Why does appraisal have so little to do with praise?

Appraisal and praise can be traced back to a common Latin root: pretiare (“to reward”). One thing that I do not understand, though, is how they came to have such different meanings: praise is ...
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1answer
149 views

What portions of the vernacular were derived directly from popular media? [closed]

Once in a great while I stumble across a strange fact about an English phrase or term that originated directly from film or print. For instance, "Be afraid. Be very afraid." - Originated from the ...
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3answers
2k views

How “macro” in computer programming came about

The prefix macro- is normally used for large things like macroeconomics and macroscopic. How did it come to be used to describe text macros in the programming world?
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2answers
631 views

Need samples of different “English” styles [closed]

I'm developing an application that requires samples of various forms of the English language. Each sample must be at minimum 2-3 paragraphs long and preferably be of a conversational manner, for ...
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5answers
3k views

When did the use of acronyms begin? [closed]

What are some of the earliest acronyms and did they know it was an acronym at the time?
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2answers
464 views

I can't get no satisfaction? really? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: “I Can't Get No Satisfaction” — what's the correct meaning? I know this is a popular song and they might have twisted it a bit. but is it the ...
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1answer
1k views

“Ta” and “ta-ta”

If "ta" means "thank-you", how did "ta-ta" come to mean "goodbye?" Isn't it basically repeating "ta?", in which case, wouldn't it mean "thanks, thanks!"? Is there a reason why? Does it lie in their ...
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3answers
4k views

If the English language is always evolving, why do we need to learn and follow grammatical rules?

Since language evolves over time — the best example I can think of is slang where it mostly doesn't follow grammar rules — why is there a need to preserve grammar or stress that proper ...
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3answers
667 views

Is there an 'official' way to suggest a new word become part of the English language? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Regulatory bodies and authoritative dictionaries for English Creating a new word What are the criteria to adopt new words into English? I've always been told, at ...
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1answer
353 views

Did “breaking news” originate from the phrasal verb “break in?” [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Why is news said to be “breaking”? Studying phrasal verbs I found break in meaning as interruption. My teacher suggested that it can be also used in news as ...