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Jul
10
comment Why is there “Black English” but not “White English”?
Those dialects don't differ significantly in terms of grammar; the grammar of North Preston is almost indistinguishable from the grammar of black Georgia. The vocabularies differ significantly, but not the grammar.
Jul
9
comment English Translation of “Umay”
Languages all have their quirks; no doubt there are many things you can say in one word of English that would take several words in Tagalog, Ilocano, or what have you, and words in each of those languages that take half a paragraph of English to express.
Jul
9
comment Why do we say “Hear! Hear!”?
"Hear him" or "hear ye [this]"? Oyez! Oyez! goes back an awful long way.
Jul
8
comment American English: poor vs. pour
Which American English? There are several dialects, each with its own pronunciation quirks.
Jul
7
comment There are seven days in a/the week
+1, but the difference I see between days in a week and days in the week is that the former would normally be a simple accounting (the period of time we call a week is seven times the length of the period we call a day), while the latter would normally be used leading up to an enumeration of the days (and they are called Monday, Tuesday,...). Or, to put it slightly differently, the a version refers to a generic week (which could be any of many) while the the version refers to the Platonic essence of The Week (of which there is but one).
Jul
7
comment Pronunciation of “accepted”
It's not the most common pronunciation, and it's not likely to become the most common pronunciation. That's not because too many people will consider it wrong, but because except sort of beat it to the punch. An initial unstressed schwa is just begging for eventual deletion, and 'cept (or, regionally, 'ceptin') is already taken. That will generate some push-back against any tendency to elide the "K" sound in accept.
Jul
7
comment How to use “of which”?
@ColinFine - Okay (he said is "no true Scotsman" fashion), no sane person's sensibilities.
Jul
7
comment What does “soda” mean in places where it doesn't mean soft drink?
And, depending on the context, it may also refer to things like washing soda (where, of all of the substances that have tradionally been referred to as [something] soda — whether that compound contains sodium or not — it's obvious that you mean only one of them).
Jul
7
comment How to guess/divine definitions from etymology?
@MattGutting - I again raise silly as an objection here. In OE and early ME, it was used to mean "blessed" (often in missals and breviaries). By late ME it meant something like "innocent" or "lowly", depending on context. Shakespeare used it to mean "defenceless" (Two Gentlemen of Verona IV.i.73–75). While it might be handy to know the then-current meaning and usage when reading old texts (and who among us doesn't enjoy fun facts in general), silly carries none of those meanings, even as the barest hint of connotation or implication, into its current meaning and usage.
Jul
7
comment Question about the proscribed use of “have” along with “get” or “be”
Idiomatically, we'd expect laces to have come undone rather than to have become undone, even if become would work for most other hands-off state changes that would require a reflexive formulation in other European languages. English grammar is mostly simple, except where it is fractally complex, and the hard parts are more likely to be found in homely usage than in carefully crafted formal writing. (That usage of homely is somewhat archaic, by the way, but there is no good modern substitute.)
Jul
6
comment How to guess/divine definitions from etymology?
Indeed. Knowing that silly comes to us from the Old English for "blessed" (and is a congnate of the German word selig) doesn't help a lot.
Jul
6
comment Claim a stake or stake a claim?
@JanusBahsJacquet - there's always the degenerate case, isn't there?
Jul
4
comment How to distinguish the meaning of “repair” and “ fix”
@mplungjan - Sadly, I have seen more than a few "craftsmen" who were, perhaps, not at the top of their game "repair" things in exactly that sort of way. It's about intent, not process.
Jul
3
comment Please explain the pronunciation of “indict.”
Just as a general thing: there are rather a lot of words in English whose spelling was adjusted to reflect Latin cognates after the word was already common in the language. Victuals, for instance, was vittailes when Chaucer wrote it, and is pronounced vittles.
Jul
2
comment What is “the culinary chops”?
Most excellent point, @JanusBahsJacquet
Jul
2
comment Open the rivers of Heaven?
I've never heard the expression, but to me it sounds more like the object of the game is to get the goodness (grace, bounty, whatever) to flow from heaven.
Jul
2
comment How are these two sentences connected?
Actually, it reads as "They stood in the darkened kitchen, illuminated by the streetlight outside shining through the curtainless window". It is a whole lot more awkward than it needs to be, though — definitely a Bulwer-Lytton Award candidate.
Jul
2
comment What is “the culinary chops”?
Both of the examples at the end use "chops" to mean skill/ability, not "item of first quality".
Jul
2
comment What is “the culinary chops”?
@YoichiOishi - While "chops" may be a slang term for a word that is used in the singular, the word itself is plural. You would need to say His English language chops are greatly improved to be grammatically correct, but that still wouldn't quite be idiomatic; His English language chops have greatly improved would be better.
Jun
30
comment The right word for someone with a higher rank in military
One may also use "Staff" (at least in Commonwealth countries) to address a person whose rank is not known to you and who may be a non-commissioned officer below the rank of Warrant Officer (or equivalent). (That's generally when you're being yelled at from behind for some breach of protocol or etiquette, but it could also be because you are unfamiliar with the rank designations for NCOs that go with particular rank insignia in another branch/service/regiment. You will generally be told, and quickly, how to fill in the blank.)