Questions about how English has changed.

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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", ...
4
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2answers
2k 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 ...
4
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2answers
2k 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", ...
14
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1answer
11k 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 Jimenez Why is San Jacinto not pronounced San Hacinto in ...
7
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1answer
590 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
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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
249 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
1k 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 ...
4
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0answers
133 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
1k 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
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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 ...
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2answers
2k 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 ...
47
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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
819 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 ...
4
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5answers
6k 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
581 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 ...
3
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1answer
2k 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 ...
10
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3answers
7k 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 ...
3
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3answers
1k 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 ...
1
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1answer
395 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 ...
4
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1answer
179 views

When I shelve only one thing, am I not putting it on one shelf?

As there are plenty of nouns used as verbs, why is it that I do not shelf, but rather shelve, an idea? Since the -lves is just the special case plural of -lf, it seems curious that the -lve is used to ...
4
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2answers
205 views

What is the difference between these two “scip”s?

In a question about ships, I added an answer with the etymologies that underpin both ship and -ship. "Ship" stems from scip: "O.E. scip "ship, boat," from P.Gmc. *skipan (cf. O.N., O.S., Goth. skip ...
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3answers
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Evolution of the meaning of “to dwell”

The Old English meaning of "to dwell" (dwellan) is to mislead. Can we trace the gradual shift from this original sense to that of Modern English: to reside, to inhabit ?
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3answers
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Gay (homosexual) and gay (happy)

When did the main meaning of the word 'gay' shift from happy to homosexual? How did the meaning evolve, if there is a relation between the two?
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4answers
1k views

What is the historic process for converting vulgar words into simply rude words?

I have noticed a pattern involving vulgarities where the previous generation's evil words become accepted as merely off-color or rude in the following generation. Is this merely each generation's ...
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4answers
178 views

How are artificial constructions such as l33t classified with regards to English?

L33t or its various other titles* is a derivation of English but I have no idea what term should be used to describe it. Other examples of these things would include lolspeak and the massive ...
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2answers
1k views

When did “fag” become an offensive word?

I'm from Pennsylvania. With the recent threat by the Westboro Baptist Church to protest the funeral of seven children who perished in a fire, I've been thinking a lot about their infamous catchphrase: ...
5
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2answers
877 views

Has there been an Anglo-Saxon movement in English?

We know there has been an influence (or attempt at influence) of Latin grammar on English, especially in the 19th century. And of course, many new words coined today in (say) the sciences draw upon ...
4
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4answers
857 views

Is English becoming easier or harder to learn? [closed]

As we all know, English is evolving. Constructs considered repugnant 100 years ago are widely-accepted today. Thousands of words in our vocabulary have fallen into disuse while thousands more have ...
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1answer
1k views

Classical language [closed]

What are classical languages? How they are different from other languages? Is English is an example of classical language?
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1answer
417 views

Attention, focus, and respect as distributable resources

I'm curious about why we say things like, "If I could have your attention please", "Please give me your focus", and "Please give me the same respect you want for yourself". When did these become ...
1
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1answer
332 views

Why does spelling matter? [closed]

If I write mispelling as supposed to misspelling why does it matter? The meaning still exists. Everyone knows what I meant to write. There is no ambiguity. Why do some people consider the proper ...
4
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3answers
3k views

Has the use of the idiom “last week” surpassed the use of the correct “yester-week”?

In his book Write It Right, which was published in 1909 -– a hundred years ago -- Ambrose Bierce disagreed with the usage of the words “Last” and “Past” with “week”. He explained : Last and Past. ...
5
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1answer
223 views

Is there a technical term for the degeneration or evolution of words?

Based on this question, I was curious if there is an actual term that describes how words' meanings change or become deprecated over time.
4
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2answers
3k views

Is the correct usage of “Diagnose (verb)” losing its ground?

In spite of many references on the correct usage of ”Diagnose”, usage of passive construction followed by a with-phrase – e.g. “The patient was diagnosed with cancer” — and usage of patient as object ...
14
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7answers
3k views

When and how did “fail” become a noun?

Does anyone know when and how fail became a noun? I'd love to see one of those charts that shows the date of origin and subsequent growth of this usage.
13
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6answers
598 views

How common is the confusion between “affect” and “effect”?

I stumbled onto a US Congress representative’s website with what I think is a blatant and very visible mistake: Namely, the sentence in yellow, “How does the population change effect our district”. ...
17
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4answers
904 views

When does a mistake become standard usage?

We all know that word meanings and usage change over time (though not all of us are happy about it). How long does a word have to be used in a particular way for that usage to be "okay"? At what ...
31
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5answers
3k views

Is Valley Girl speak “like”, entering the language?

So like, I had this teacher? And he's like, "You're late?" And I'm like, "There's like other people late too?" I've always cringed at the word "like" strewn about in a spoken sentence. Well now ...
29
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8answers
5k views

Why have the subjunctive and indicative converged in Modern English?

It is to me a curious fact that the subjunctive mood of verbs in English has so nearly disappeared in modern times. In fact, even the correct form and usage of the subjunctive in Modern English barely ...