147 reputation
4
bio website nicholaswilson.me.uk
location Cambridge, United Kingdom
age
visits member for 3 years, 4 months
seen Sep 13 at 12:18

A recent maths Part III (masters) graduate, with interest in functional languages. Unix enthusiast. Has day job writing enterprisey C++ app.


Sep
21
comment What do you do when a sentence ends with a decimal?
Or reports citing statistics, or engineering work, surveying, planning, scientific contexts, among others...
Jun
7
comment Regulatory bodies and authoritative dictionaries for English
The Queen, of course. We love her to bits.
May
24
comment What's the difference between a vicar and a pastor?
Not at all. I'm not in the least offended, but more interested. You were giving off some personal vibes, and it's just a bit unusual of a Q&A site to have a chance to make any sort of connection with the person on the other end who's also procrastinating by posting answers on the fine distinctions between different words. I mean, I'm real, and you're a real person, and I just thought I could make a gentle comment without upsetting you, and indeed SO does have plenty of polite users like you. Sometimes it's good to remember that words point to realities more important that the language itself.
May
24
comment What's the difference between a vicar and a pastor?
That's a shame, because it's not really representative. I guess you know that, but still. Things don't have merit as and when they're popular; they're useful only so far as they really reflect the world (and that's linguistic too, to prevent this being too OT). You're giving lots of of atheist signals (sorry if that's a wrong linguistic comment, but many of my friends display the same!); perhaps it is fair to point out that if we are correct now, it has to be because we square up against everything else and win, whether it's still around or not, so we can't write anything off as just history.
May
24
awarded  Teacher
May
24
comment Is there a word that means “Refinement of knowledge over time”?
I think the appropriate phrase is, ‘Stand back, I'm about to do science!’
May
23
answered Who, what, where, when, why, how. Why so many “Wh”s?
May
23
comment Are there any differences between “oval” and “ellipse”?
To be honest, you wouldn't see the word oval appear anywhere in maths (except perhaps in school). It's just too vague. If we wanted to mean what 'Doctor Sarah' describes, we would probably say 'convex hull'. (Can she really be a Dr? I doubt it; it's pretty rookie to get convex and concave mixed up.)
May
23
comment What is the difference between “gender” and “sex”?
I would guess our modern use of gender stems from feminism (as suggested), the unwanted connotations of the word sex from that time, and political/bureaucratic correctness using what was a medical word for something they wanted to be coy about. This is turning into more of a rant and debate than I wanted; I'm sorry if just seem to be defending to my point. I just wanted to give an opposing view to the debate. I am realistic about current usage, but the word 'sex' has plenty of historical and cultural sense, so I don't feel too bad for suggesting it.
May
23
comment What is the difference between “gender” and “sex”?
Sorry. OED gives “Gender. … 3b In mod. (esp. feminist) use, a euphemism for the sex of a human being, often intended to emphasize the social and cultural, as opposed to the biological, distinctions between the sexes. Freq. attrib.” The full OED, as well as giving defs, lists a pile of quotations for each one to record earliest usage and development. Of the seven given for 3b, the earliest is 1963.
May
23
revised What is the difference between “gender” and “sex”?
more neatening
May
23
awarded  Editor
May
23
revised What is the difference between “gender” and “sex”?
rm UK idiom
May
23
comment What's the difference between a vicar and a pastor?
In England, yes, but there are plenty of Americans around here where minister, pastor, and priest would probably each outnumber vicar as formal titles. Globally, in English-speaking countries, it's not entirely clear that 'vicar' would be the most common.
May
23
comment What is the difference between “gender” and “sex”?
Point. I've checked it out in the OED then. There aren't many old sources for 'gender' in this use; it's a post-60s new meaning for the word. Gender (3a&b) as used to distinguish between various classes of object or ever profession was common, but the common connotation now of referring to people's sex is indeed new within living memory. In contrast, sex (OED 1-4) is a old meaning. Gender is one of those words like vagina that was originally used a clinical (or in the case of gender sometimes bureaucratic) avoidance but became common. I feel sex is still a somewhat more personal word.
May
23
comment How do you quote a passage that has used '[sic]' mistakenly?
Just to point out, once you've got the whole internet helping you with this one, you'd better remember to italicise the 'sic' as so many people forget to do.
May
23
comment How is a' in mathematics pronounced?
'Dash' is also reasonably common here in Cambridge, particularly when talking about differentials perhaps (f-dash).
May
23
awarded  Commentator
May
23
comment Meaning of “magazine” from 1845
While we're at it, it's boutique in (Calvin's) French, which is closer to his Latin than magazine. My translation is also the Beveridge one, so I can't check against any other English versions.
May
23
comment Pronunciation of “Azure” in “Windows Azure”
Well, imagine how Lawrence Olivier might have leeoot instead of loot for lute. There is a broad spectrum of how much the vowel is graded in tone over the whole sound. As I keep trying the sound, I'm getting more used to the idea of pronouncing it like other way, but I'm still unconvinced anyone I know would actually follow it.