Questions about how English has changed.

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1answer
2k views

Dressing gown vs housecoat

As far as I can tell they refer to the same thing (bathrobe). I'd like to know the roots of both, and if possible the history of their evolution. Specifically if the usage is influenced by social ...
16
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2answers
1k 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 ...
5
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3answers
2k 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 '...
7
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6answers
8k 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 ...
-5
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1answer
62 views

is newspeak in close proximity to the present trend? [closed]

I can't think of a way to question the use of the phrase "close proximity" without expressing an opinion or asking for one (and that applies both to the specific case of this phrase and wider ...
0
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1answer
39 views

What does the term sophistry mean today? [closed]

Does the term sophistry as it is used today demand intentional deception or does it also include well-crafted arguments based on faulty assumptions or the use of flawed reasoning? I just glanced at ...
0
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0answers
33 views

Why does Siri give a different answer to “How do you beatbox” vs. “How does one beatbox”

One would have thought that the latter grammatical form would have been incorporated into the algorithm. Is the "one" style gradually dying out in common usage, in favor of "you"?
50
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22answers
9k views

Are there any “fake” French words used in English?

Are there any "fake" French words used in English? By "fake French" I mean words that are of French origin but are not actually correct French. This could happen if the word changes as it becomes ...
16
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4answers
6k 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 ...
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1answer
97 views

Why 'Germanic Languages' and 'Germanic Tribes'?

I've never been a fan of the word 'Germanic' and it's use to cover all Northern European (except the so-called 'Celtic Fringe') Tribes due to it's overtly political connotations. Can anyone tell me ...
3
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2answers
267 views

Is “sh*te” a swear word?

So I was watching The Simpsons just before, the episode being "Fraudcast News". At the end of the episode many Springfield residents follow in Lisa's footsteps and start to print their own newspapers. ...
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 ...
0
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2answers
36 views

What is the term for following a number, ie: ten (10) with the numeric version for clarity

I see this a fair bit in journal papers, and wanted to know if there is a specific reason and/or term for this: having the spelled/lexical version of a number followed by the literal/logical ...
3
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1answer
13k 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" ...
3
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1answer
36 views

Evolution of the words

Some years ago, swag, or swagger would mean to boast. Now it has a totally different approach- awesomeness, "coolness", or just slang for greatness. Same with graze- going from eating grass ...
20
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2answers
1k views

What is the etymology of the term “Cockpit”?

I have always been intrigued by the word cockpit and have wondered where it originated. I have heard that it originated in the times of cock fights; is this true? If it is, how did the word evolve ...
2
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2answers
50 views

What, if anything, would cause a common word's official spelling to change? (e.g. “have”) Can this still happen today?

As we know, spelling and pronunciation change over time. However, it's hard to imagine any normal, common words having a shift in their spelling in our lifetimes. The issue was brought to mind for me ...
5
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2answers
122 views

Is “which” a preposition? Because because

Backstory: Back in 2013 the American Dialect Society appointed because Word of the Year. People had begun using a new syntax: noun-phrases and adjectives could now follow because. In response Geoffrey ...
14
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1answer
12k 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 ...
19
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2answers
2k views

Why “No smoking” works but “Yes smoking” doesn't?

No smoking is a formula used to indicate smoking is not allowed. Why can't we use Yes smoking to indicate smoking is allowed? (Although, we might use humorously but I've never heard actually.) ...
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1answer
31 views

what's “disruption” globally mean today? [closed]

The word "disruption" doesn't have the same meaning, also totally different when used in business context. Someone can help define it better? Thanks
5
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1answer
111 views

How are computers affecting spelling and usage? [closed]

Has spell check changed usage? I type the word "theatre" often; even here while I am typing it is underlined in red, yet Americans who direct, produce, or act in theatre prefer the older spelling. It'...
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 ...
0
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1answer
108 views

Do english accents in England have both germanic and celtic influences?

I'm curious about the accents from England about whether its more Germanic or more Celtic because since English come from the Angles,who were Germanic,the accents has to have more Germanic phonetic ...
9
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1answer
151 views

Do reflexive verbs often evolve into intransitive usage?

With the relatively recent proliferation in the number and variety of genders that our contemporaries willingly proclaim themselves to be or belong to, a new intransitive sense of the verb identify, ...
3
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1answer
175 views

Did English “borrow” or “inherit” from Proto-Germanic (PGmc)? [closed]

I wanted to see a cage match on this question, which started in the comments to this answer. We were left with these opposing assertions: PGmc was never homogeneous. Most English expressions "...
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1answer
107 views

Wi-Fi, WiFi, wi-fi, wifi [duplicate]

Shame the previous thread on this was closed. A lot of my work entails getting stuff right and being able to justify it but like many on this previous thread How do you spell wifi / Wi-Fi / WiFi? ...
6
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3answers
1k 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. ...
1
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1answer
157 views

Imparted vs Imputed

so I am a bit confused by the meaning of the two words: imparted and imputed. I know impart means to give or to communicate something. Impute means to ascribe. However, I dont know how can i ...
2
votes
1answer
499 views

What is the history of “partner” being used to refer to boyfriend–girlfriend relationships?

In North America (especially Canada and the United States), the word partner is more and more commonly used to describe someone who would otherwise traditionally have been called a boyfriend or a ...
0
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1answer
757 views

lie awake or stay awake? [closed]

Soon, we will lie awake to talking and laughing until the sunrise Soon, we will stay awake for talking and laughing until sunrise
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 ...
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2answers
130 views

Why are we using 'are' for plural? [closed]

For example: He is eating.They are eating. Why we won't say "They is eating". I think 'are' is not communicating anything additional.Why such a grammatical rule evolved?
1
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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 ...
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.
2
votes
2answers
190 views

US English vs UK English [closed]

Of course, I am not a native English speaker nor a good one (or at least not as good as I would like to be). I know there are some differences between UK and US English, but, from my perspective, they ...
1
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2answers
583 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?
5
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3answers
1k views

How did *Old* English transform into *Middle* English so quickly?

Anglo Saxon Old English was the most common language in England before the Norman invasion. To the modern eye, it is unintelligible without specialist learning: lange þrage;    ...
0
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0answers
13 views

What is the origin of the progressive [duplicate]

What is the origin of the progressive form of the english verbs
3
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3answers
728 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 ...
9
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3answers
177 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
619 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?
18
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3answers
12k views

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?
1
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3answers
874 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 ...
2
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1answer
2k 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 ...
5
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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 ...
31
votes
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 I'...
5
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1answer
197 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 ...
5
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2answers
661 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? ...
0
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1answer
119 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 ...