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Feb
24
comment “The bastard spawn of Spoo and Vox raised by RSS”
Vox is a blogging platform (among many other things) so RSS as the syndication feed protocol makes sense. I've never heard of Spoo in that context (it does have a sci-fi meaning in the context of Babylon 5, but that makes less sense than drive-by artists in forums usually make), but it's likely an obscure and hopelessly complex content management system -- that would fit the posting, even if it makes zero sense as a response in the thread.
Feb
24
comment Meaning of “Profit”
The South Park episode in question is Gnomes.
Feb
24
comment Meaning of “Profit”
And incorrectly used, at that. It should have been: 1. Wash; 2. Let them dry out; 3. ?; 4. Profit. It's the mystery missing step that makes the joke (and the meme).
Feb
24
comment What is the meaning of “Good Grief”?
@Tim: Not all, and not always. The "Holy x" phrases are usually expressions of surprise or awe. "Sweet x" may be exasperation, but it also may be of thanks. Ultimately, they come from the same kind of religious expression. "Dear x" (anywhere other than in the salutation of a letter) is probably annoyance or exasperation as well. When it's not, you can usually tell very clearly by the context.
Feb
23
comment Words for different types of leatherworking
To clarify: are you looking for specific operations (skiving, stamping, tooling, etc.), or the various types of jobs a saddler or cobbler might take in?
Feb
23
comment 'Questions' vs. 'Concerns' vs. 'Doubts'
So it's as Indian as vindaloo, then. This makes a lot of sense -- the Portuguese had a pretty gold foothold in India (in Goa, in particular, which was a Portuguese territory until 1961).
Feb
23
comment Attention, focus, and respect as distributable resources
@Nathan: you do realise that that is never and has never been more than guesswork, right? All we have is the record of usage to work with, and analogous uses in other languages. The working analogy in English is to accord respect, attention, admiration and so forth an equal footing with tribute (which is now metaphorical, but which was once money or goods).
Feb
23
comment What should I call the English spoken in UK?
Certainly less than between Janner and Geordie.
Feb
23
comment Is there a rule about double negations that aren't meant as double negations (e.g. “We don't need no education”)?
The rule against double negation is an artificial one, like the rule against splitting infinitives -- they can all be traced to Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-century prescriptivists who wanted to make English fit the grammar of Latin and Greek neatly. Shakespeare is peppered with double negatives, and not in the mouths of fools and peasants, neither, and if you stripped them from Chaucer you'd have little left to tell on the way to Canterbury.
Feb
23
comment Do the words “jail” and “prison” refer to different things?
In Canada, a jail will take you for for any period up to what is colloquially called "a deuce less" -- two years, less a day. Because of the transient nature of the jail population, there is little incentive for inmates to get along in any way, so people who think they're headed for "a deuce less" will often take the "might as well be hanged for a pound as a penny" approach to bump their sentence up to at least the two-year level. If you're serving "a solid deuce" or more, you get moved into a prison (penitentiary) where your neighbors will be around for a while.
Feb
23
comment What do you call it when a group of neglected people spontaneously forms a cruel society?
It's about time you made this an answer. +1
Feb
23
comment What does “wrt” mean?
It's not that they don't require capitalisation or punctuation, but that they're generally used in terser forms of communication like e-mails, short memoranda and SMS messages, where haste rules the day. There are some older abbreviations (such as c for with) that are derived from handwritten abbreviations that were either underlined and raised above the baseline of the text or overlined -- the abbreviations survived the transition to the typewriter for business use, but the lining and position didn't.
Feb
23
comment Using “run” as a noun
@Billare: probably because it can't be used in the singular. Or maybe it can. All I know is I've never had the run.
Feb
23
comment How do you spell Muammar Qaddafi?
It's silly to think of "Arabic" as one language. It's actually a family of languages connected by the canonical classical Arabic in which the Qur'an is written. Classical Arabic has a relatively restricted number of sounds (especially vowels) when compared to any of the Arabics on the ground. Modern Arabics are a lot like modern English in that the written representation of the language is only a poor approximation of the spoken language.
Feb
23
comment “How about” vs. “What about”
+1 - "What about ..." is usually a way to bring an objection or potential obstacle into consideration in my experience, whereas "how about ..." expands, rather than restricts, the possibilities.
Feb
23
comment Naïve, naïf, naïvety, naïveté
Naïf is almost exclusively used as a noun, in fact. We used to make a gender distinction in the adjectival form, but it's very rare these days. I suppose the noun form is rare enough now in either gender, but when it is used, it's almost always with the appropriate gender.
Feb
23
comment Is it “just as soon” or “just assume”?
It's actually a very common English phrase with a very long history. "Sooner" also means "rather" (in the sense of desire) in addition to meaning "closer to the present than later", and "as soon" means "desire equally" in the literal sense, but "rather" in the colloquial sense.
Feb
22
comment Words with roots from different languages
But it is immediately understandable -- the sign of a good coinage, despite its heteroracinate character. I vote for inclusion in the OED. Anyone else with me?
Feb
22
comment Using “run” as a noun
Along with this, bobsleigh tracks are commonly known as runs, fenced-in areas of parks where canines can roam off-leash are called "dog runs", and so on.
Feb
22
comment Why is the word “whatnot” a construction of “what” and “not”?
Exactly, but I think it would have been something more like "and what not to [include]" (a variant without the ever). In any case, what we have here is a failure to imaginate -- even though we leave things out of our conversations all of the time and live in a world that abbreviates nearly everything, we sometimes manage to forget that other people have left things out for convenience in the past as well. Sometimes things just stay left out.