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  • 0 posts edited
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  • 268 votes cast
Jul
28
comment Why is the word 'bologna' pronounced like 'baloney'?
Of course the proper pronunciation of the city's name is not, and never has been, /baloney", and I never said "the pronunciation". (Try reading.) What I said was that it was a pronunciation of the name -- the same one that gave us polony and baloney for the sausage -- among common folk in England. Try reading widely of old books (and give your heads a shake).
Jul
26
comment What is the origin and meaning of the phrase “bane of my existence”?
@z7sg: the phrase is very old and means essentially the same thing as "doom" or "nemesis" -- it relates to fate, not necessarily to a pre-existing state of death.
Jul
26
comment Expression “shockingly enough”
I certainly wouldn't. Enough doesn't imply wait -- there's more!
Jul
26
comment What is a word for the relationship between “waning” and “non-waning”?
Interesting that you should have brought up love: unwaning love is a phrase I would almost expect to see coined in poetry on multiple occasions, even if it doesn't reach the sort of usage that would get unwaning into a dictionary. It is a good formation, and certainly shorter and more euphonic than undiminishing.
Jul
24
comment What does this mean: “Avoid oral calcium, dairy products, shark cartilage & exercise during the medication.”
What the label says, translated into English vernacular rather than Generic Corporate CYA is: "this course of medication is going to screw with your electrolyte balance to the point of causing potential problems with the calcium channels in your cardiac muscle; avoid any sources of calcium and avoid cardiac stress." It could be just an idiot layman's opinion, but it sounds dangerous as hell to me -- certainly not something that a medical professional would suggest without a long, ominous warning beforehand.
Jul
23
comment How should I understand “archaeocyte” in this sentence?
Just for further explanation, the word for one of the class of animals representing ancient (an transitional) cetaceans, is archaeocete (a member of archaeocetidae, or "ancient whales").
Jul
22
comment Use of ‘or’ when it means ‘and’ in negatives
A formal statement of the way this works is De Morgan's Laws in Boolean algebra: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_Morgan's_laws
Jul
20
comment Why does the verb “overlook” have such a different meaning from “oversee”?
Etymologies are often false friends; knowing what something once meant is often of little or no help in determining why it means what it means today. Take silly, for instance: it started out meaning blessed. You can trace the drift over the course of seven or eight hundred years, but you'd have to know the entire history of the usage to find a logical path from reverence to ridicule (and it is a logical path).
Jul
19
comment Did “Old Mother Hubbard” ever rhyme?
Actually, forehead does rhyme with horrid in some dialects; it was a shibboleth for U (as was the pronunciation /εt/ for the word ate). My grandmother, an English immigrant to Canada, pronounced it forrid; my father only pronounced it that way when telling old family stories (complete with accents).
Jul
11
comment Is there a more eloquent word for a zigzag?
Saw teeth may be cut with no rake, especially when the saw cuts bidirectionally -- this is particularly true of two-man saws designed to cut seasoned (as opposed to green) wood across the grain, and of veneer saws. Pinking refers specifically to the treatment of a fabric edge to prevent or delay fraying, so while the shape is right, the word would be wrong for more general application.
Jul
10
comment What word has the greatest morpheme to syllable ratio?
@peter: that is the very definition of a fusional structure -- that a single, atomic affix carries more than one unit of meaning. Of course you can't "split it up", but that doesn't mean that it only carries one morpheme.
Jul
9
comment What word has the greatest morpheme to syllable ratio?
@Peter: but present tense, third person and singular are all units of meaning. English has characteristics of analytic, synthetic and fusional languages; the polymorphemic nature of affixes like the es in goes is one of its fusional characteristics.
Jul
8
comment How to write numbers in words
+1 -- the use of and after the hundreds is a regional thing. In Canada, the use of and is commoner than the and-less American variant (though that's likely to change in a generation or two due to cultural influences from our neighbour).
Jul
7
comment “Dead, and never called me mother!”
Monty Python, Fawlty Towers, Rowan Atkins more venomous work (standup and Black Adder), Cook & Moore, Marty Feldman, At Last the 1948 Show (rare) -- they're all still big draws on this side of the pond. I had them with my pablum; it's a pity they're no longer suitable for children.
Jul
7
comment Why is “victuals” pronounced “vittles”?
It's called a false etymology -- essentially, some scholar along the way missed the intervening few hundred years of French (and, one would suppose, Proto-Romance) usage and assumed it came from the Latin more directly. A surprisingly large number of English spellings are back-formed this way; victuals is actually more correct than most since it can eventually be traced back to victus. A lot of false etymologies are nothing more than coincidence.
Jul
7
comment What is the difference between “meaning” and “definition”?
@Mitch: Good edit. Thanks.
Jul
7
comment “Properties” versus “settings”
Fields are merely the storage entities, not the properties themselves. They may or may not be accessible as properties (and the "data hiding" dictum suggests that they never be accessible except through accessors and mutators), and the value returned by the accessor or set by the mutator may or may not be the same as the value stored in the field. (I've been in the game for more than thirty years; you can keep going if you want, but you'd better know what you're talking about.)
Jul
7
comment “Properties” versus “settings”
@Joachim: you're probably right, if it's dealing with programming rather than the use of the language of programmers from an outsider's perspective. It's hard to live a life that doesn't run up against someone else's jargon once in a while.
Jul
7
comment “Properties” versus “settings”
A "property" is never a method, although its accessors and mutators (its getters and setters) might be. Even if the property is entirely virtual (that is, if it is entirely an artifact of its accessor and is unsettable), the property and its accessor are not the same thing. The property, in that case, is the value returned by the accessor, not the accessor itself. It has always been thus.
Jul
7
comment “Properties” versus “settings”
@Joe Blow: the questions here are often posed by people who are not particularly conversant with English or with a specific subset of the language. The phrase "computer 'object'" is a way of adding context to the question, separating the term "object" from its everyday, physical, meaning. That the question refers to "objects" in the OOP sense of the term seems quite obvious to me.