Reputation
23,777
Next tag badge:
97/100 score
31/20 answers
Badges
1 27 62
Newest
 Nice Answer
Impact
~2.4m people reached

10h
comment Why doesn't the English language have distinct words to use when talking to elders?
And the change is in the wrong direction to fit that theory. If the language had shifted from using "thou" for lessers and "you" for greaters to using "thou" for everyone, a plausible conclusion would be that the culture had lost respect for the people who used to be called by the more formal word. But in fact it was exactly the opposite that happened. The obvious theory is that people said, in effect, not "Those people don't deserve special respect", but rather "Everyone deserves respect". (I don't suppose that this logic PROVES my point, but I think it is evidence.)
10h
comment Why doesn't the English language have distinct words to use when talking to elders?
"Should be": Who says? By what standard do you say that a language that has different pronouns for different classes of people "right" and a language that does not have this is "wrong"? We could certainly debate whether having such words encourages a civil society, encourages blind obedience to authority, is done so mindlessly that it makes no difference at all, etc. But even if it's true that it accomplishes some worthy goal, it's quite a leap from there to saying that that's the only way to accomplish this worthy goal, or that there might not be other competing goals that are equally worthy.
10h
comment Why doesn't the English language have distinct words to use when talking to elders?
Hmm, to say that politeness only "counts" if you reserve it for special people, and that being respectful to everyone is morally equivalent to being rude to everyone, as long as either one is done equally ... just, no. One can certainly imagine a person who gives candy to people he likes and punches people he doesn't like in the face. One can imagine a person who gives candy to everyone. One can imagine a person who punches everyone in the face. The last two are not equivalent and indistinguishable just because he is treating everyone the same.
17h
comment Are “Lord” and “God” interchangeable?
@Xantix It's actually pretty common to talk about "Judeo-Christian beliefs", so I think talking about "the Judeo-Christian God", meaning the concept of God as understood by Jews and Christians, would be quite accurate. Of course Jews and Christians would say that he is the God of everyone and not just of them, but it is their idea, conception, understanding of God.
Apr
6
comment Is it offensive to call a redhead a “ginger”?
Hmm, actually I think there IS a certain amount of slavery associated with red hair: red hair is generally associated with the Irish and the Scots, and both groups were oppressed by the English. The Irish in Britain were oppressed more recently than blacks, I think. Whether that history comes to people's minds when someone says "ginger" I have no idea. As others have noted, as an American I have only heard the word from UK sources.
Mar
25
comment Is “women men girls love meet die” a valid sentence?
... sense, is nevertheless difficult to understand. Once you introduce elements into the sentence that don't make sense, you create an entirely different issue: Is the sentence difficult to understand because we expect sentences to be rational and coherent and so we stumble over the illogic? Or is the sentence difficult to understand because of the "layered" construction? If I said, "Orange Sally is fast", you'd likely stumble over the meaning for entirely different reasons. It doesn't make sense, so you struggle to extract meaning, even though the grammar is simple and straightforward.
Mar
25
comment Is “women men girls love meet die” a valid sentence?
Hmm, I agree that the "die" part is jarring and doesn't really make sense. There are certainly men that girls love. These men presumably often meet women -- assuming here that we're distinguishing "women" from "girls". Up to that point it looks like we are moving toward a coherent meaning, something about what happens when mature women meet men who are loved by young girls. But they die? That doesn't seem to make sense. In this sense I think I agree that the sentence is poorly constructed. It would be more effective to show that a sentence that, if successfully parsed, makes complete ...
Mar
23
awarded  Nice Answer
Mar
20
awarded  Nice Answer
Mar
17
comment What is a term for something unwanted but which cannot be ignored?
@HotLicks To an extent. But if, say, someone keeps kicking you in the shins, you can try to ignore them, you can pretend to ignore them, but you can't just not notice that they're doing it. Also, just because you CAN ignore something doesn't mean that you do. So I think it's fair to talk about things that a person is TRYING to ignore but which is difficult to ignore.
Mar
17
answered “someone or I” and “me or someone”
Mar
17
comment How do you native speakers pronounce @ in an email address?
As in, "4 @ $2" means you are buying or selling 4 for $2 each, total price = $8.
Mar
17
comment How do you native speakers pronounce @ in an email address?
I've always head it called either "the 'at' sign" or "commercial 'at'", since long before email was common. (I'm an old man.) I never heard the term "asperand" before reading the above post. That certainly doesn't prove it's not a real word -- I'm sure there are many words in English that I don't know, especially technical terms in fields outside my own -- but I don't think it's in common use. Maybe it's a term familiar to linguists.
Mar
17
answered Native speakers never confuse sounds of 'ma'am' and 'man'?
Mar
17
comment What can I call a person who directs traffic?
In the U.S. you routinely see signs that say "Flagger Ahead", so I think "flagger" is the accepted (politically-correct) U.S. term. I wouldn't be surprised if the average construction worker still calls them "flag men", just like Americans routinely call the service people on airplanes "stewardesses" even though the politically correct term for a couple of decades now has been "flight attendants".
Mar
17
comment What can I call a person who directs traffic?
@gnawme Yes. These might be good descriptive terms, but they are not in common use, and while someone might guess what you mean if they heard them, then again they might not. If someone asked, "What is the term for a person who performs medical operations?", the right answer is "surgeon", not "medical operator", no matter how descriptive you might think the latter term is.
Mar
7
awarded  Nice Answer
Mar
4
comment What is the word for something that has not yet been configured?
@tchrist I guess if you throw up, that's "uneaten food". :-)
Feb
28
comment How do you pronounce numbers written in different bases?
... I do not expect to use political terminology to describe a math problem, or to use Java to express my love for my wife. I do not expect a union contract to use the definition of "work" found in a physics book. Etc.
Feb
28
comment How do you pronounce numbers written in different bases?
@DavidSchwartz Much-belated reply: When we are reading decimal numbers, it makes sense to use decimal-based names. When we are reading octal numbers, it makes sense to use octal-based names. To say that English uses decimal-based names begs the question. English uses decimal-based names when talking about decimal numbers. Who says what sort of names we should use when talking abut non-decimal numbers? When we are talking about a different subject matter it makes sense to use a different set of terms. ...