Questions tagged [contemporary-english]

This tag is for questions about English as it is used in our own day and times. This differs from the more general Modern English by being more restricted.

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6 answers
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Is it common for native English speakers to confuse "18th century" with "the 1800s"?

As a non-native English speaker, I've only ever referred to "1700-talet", meaning "the 1700s" or "the 18th century". In English, it's by far most common to say "18th ...
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2 votes
1 answer
91 views

Why have some younger & (in particular) highly-educated Americans recently begun to pronounce -t- as -d- in words where glottal -t- is idiomatic?

I'm not talking about "bidder" for "bitter" or "sidding" for "sitting," or "ladder" for "latter," etc. I'm talking about "Manhaddan,&...
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0 votes
1 answer
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What is the part-of-speech of "intimates" in this article? [closed]

Commander Robert Broadhurst told MPs yesterday that there were "several intimates" from the Chinese that the London leg of the Olympic torch relay would have been switched to another capital ...
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6 votes
2 answers
169 views

Current Usage of Fanny

We are thinking about giving our daughter the name Fanny. We are Germans, based in Germany but we're really curious about the current usage of this word in Great Britain. We are familiar with the ...
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-1 votes
1 answer
71 views

Is there a valid form of "aggregate" meaning "that can be aggregated"? Is "Aggregable" a word? [closed]

A thing that can be composted is compostable. I'm trying to describe a thing that can be aggregated. The probably self-invented word I'm using is "aggregable" and I'm struggling to find it ...
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2 votes
2 answers
79 views

Why does "I'm sure" used in a sentence sometimes reduce apparent certainty?

Take these two sentences as example: This road is closed during football games. I'm sure this road is closed during football games. Why does the first sentence convey more certainty, when the second ...
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6 votes
4 answers
245 views

In what regions is "Do you work tonight?" clear and acceptable usage?

In my answer at ELL regarding a question of whether someone is working that evening, I suggested the alternative: Do you work tonight? There was a comment about this being incorrect usage, because &...
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1 vote
1 answer
61 views

Would you use 'bender' to describe a person? [closed]

We know 'bender' as a period of time which one spends excessively drunk (or maybe high), and "a person or thing which bends," and Bender, the robot on "Futurama," but would -- or ...
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0 votes
1 answer
58 views

Is the term "animate object" still used?

Is the term "animate object" still acceptable to use, for example for a grasshopper? I remember objects being broken down into either animate objects or inanimate objects back when I was in ...
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3 votes
3 answers
824 views

When do you use 'nom de plume' vs. 'pen name' vs. 'pseudonym'?

Dictionaries usually treat nom de plume as synonymous with 'pen name' or 'pseudonym'. Example from Merriam Webster's dictionary: Definition of nom de plume: a name that a writer uses instead of his ...
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0 votes
1 answer
42 views

Is tl;dr used very much outside of the computer programming community?

I read tl;dr a lot in computer articles. It is used to give a condensed version of a long report. (It may mean, "Too Long; Didn't Read.") Is it safe to use that term or jargon in common ...
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0 votes
1 answer
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What does "flood had made" mean?

A yawl is in the Thames and then The Nellie, a cruising yawl, swung to her anchor without a flutter of the sails, and was at rest. The flood had made, the wind was nearly calm, and being bound down ...
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0 votes
3 answers
170 views

What is the precise meaning of "bottom scroll"?

This is an extract from the book "The Boy From the Woods" by Harlan Coben. Hester quickly craned her neck toward Matthew and tried, through the haze of the studio spotlights, to meet his ...
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-1 votes
1 answer
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Questions about history and usage of the word "paren"

This is related to an earlier question: "parentheses" vs "parenthesis" but is about etymology of the related (and apparently informal, per wikitionary ) word "paren" and ...
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3 votes
1 answer
72 views

"around" = "on the subject of"

In recent months I have on a number of occasions heard people use the word "around" when they mean "on the subject of." E.g. "I can answer your questions around your ...
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0 votes
0 answers
35 views

Under what circumstances may the noun 'ambush' not be preceded by any article?

In particular, I wish to know if they were attacked from ambush and they were attacked from an ambush are equally in fashion. The articled form is is definitely more familiar, but look at the first ...
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1 vote
4 answers
95 views

Modern synonym for turnstile?

Are there any widely used modern synonyms for turnstile? You know, the gate you need a ticket, badge, or barcode in order to pass through. Nowadays, I don't see any with an actual metal-pole turning ...
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0 votes
1 answer
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Is it grammatical to use ellipses to indicate a character reminiscing?

Is the usage of ellipses correct here? He sat on his wooden desk, fixing the reel on his cassette. When he played the cassette, his mind played the memories of the past ... [a paragraph outlining the ...
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2 votes
1 answer
95 views

"In the first instance" ... active in contemporary populations?

On a site, I happened to use the phrase "In the first instance" ... (Not that this is relevant, but notice the many upvotes suggesting that presumably, it reaches baseline understandability ...
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0 answers
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Which is the correct sentence using the word 'Let'? [duplicate]

In the following two sentences, I think that the first one is more precisely correct: (1) Let G be a graph with n vertices, and S be the set of all subgraphs of G. (2) Let G be a graph with n ...
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0 votes
1 answer
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What's the difference between "another" and "someone else"?

1: If Henry is busy, get another person to help you. 2: If Henry is busy, get someone else to help you. Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English defines another this way: not the same thing, ...
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3 votes
1 answer
210 views

Can "If" mean "since"?

Here's my example: "If we all agree on the basic terms, can we do a proper agreement next week." Can this be construed (in the proper context) as: "Since we all agree, can we etc."?...
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0 votes
1 answer
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Recent derogatory usage of the term ‘inkblot’?

I have observed the use of the term ‘inkblot’ in online forums for criticizing writing which is deficient in coherent logic and/or elucidation, e.g. “your incoherent inkblots notwithstanding.” In this ...
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0 votes
1 answer
68 views

can you say "he is in a lively chat with her"

My question is about style. Does it sound natural if you say that someone "is in a lively chat/conversation with someone" or is it better to say "he is ENGAGED in a lively chat with her&...
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0 votes
1 answer
222 views

On a certain pejorative in contemporary British English

According to the OED https://www.oed.com/viewdictionaryentry/Entry/67623) "faggot" and "fag", used to refer to gay men in a derogatory way are "originally and chiefly North ...
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0 votes
0 answers
39 views

Usage of "she" instead of "he" for inclusiveness [duplicate]

Ten to five years ago I was reading MSDN Magazine, and in a few articles I stumbled upon sentences like "The user should... She needs to...", with "she" referring to the user. ...
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0 votes
2 answers
683 views

Is it ever correct to say "if I be..." in present-day English?

We are taught that in "type 0" and "type 1" conditional sentences, the tense of the condition clause (aka the "if" clause) should always be the normal present tense, as ...
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1 vote
1 answer
970 views

What does 'after midnight on Wednesday' mean?

West Midlands Police said the devices were found outside an address in Coronation Road, Tipton, just after midnight on Wednesday. MSN news : Bomb Squad Called It is now Wednesday. To me, 'midnight ...
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2 votes
4 answers
124 views

Formal salutation of a servant to a child?

Let's say I have someone like Alfred Pennyworth. Such a person would obviously address the man and woman of the house as "Sir" and "Madam". (For example, "Would sir care for a beverage?") How could ...
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0 votes
1 answer
130 views

How can I research the first recorded usage of a particular sense of a word, especially not the most commonly used sense or most 'basic' sense?

I'm interested in finding the first use of the word "creative" when used in the sense of an advertisement's text, graphics, etc. How can I research the first use of a word like this when it's so ...
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6 votes
1 answer
109 views

What is the convention for use of "volume" or "amount" in reference to quantity of data?

"Volume" is commonly used to refer to indefinite and definite (usually large) quantities of data or rates of data throughput (e.g., "The volume of data we delivered on each date is provided in the ...
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16 votes
12 answers
5k views

Does English use the word ‘thou’ in any situations nowadays? [closed]

Does English use the word thou in situations nowadays? For example, to humiliate an opponent by being overly familiar?
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0 votes
1 answer
38 views

What is meant by "carbon space class"?

I'm taking an online class from someone who has lots of typos in his course materials. I found these sentences in the course materials: Finally, there is a "Current Events" discussion area to ...
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0 votes
2 answers
154 views

When did ‘above’ and ‘below’ start referring to things preceding and succeeding in a written work?

TL;DR contemporary writers use ‘above’ and ‘below’ for intratextual referencing—how long has this been the case, and did this usage coincide with the introduction of PC publishing software? I have ...
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6 votes
1 answer
1k views

Whence comes increasing usage of "I'll do an X" instead of "I'll have" in ordering food?

I have lately noticed, at both ends of a recent thousand-mile relocation within the USA, that people are increasingly using the verb “do” in ordering food, in place of that “have&...
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0 votes
2 answers
66 views

How is melagra described in contemporary English? [closed]

The noun MELAGRA stands for rheumatic or myalgic pains in the arms or legs. This is the word I found which is closest to describing the kind of pain that one feels all over the body during fever or ...
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4 votes
6 answers
4k views

An adjective to replace "so random" (to describe one who is apt to say random things)

Among friends, we describe a person as "so random" (he/she is so random) if that person says random things (often in group discussions). That is, we do not use it as defined below (i.e., he/she is "so ...
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4 votes
1 answer
5k views

Is "pre-prepared" redundant?

I've noticed recently the "word" pre-prepared popping up in my daily life, and if my completely selection-biased anecdotes are any evidence, it seems to be catching on. Is there any reason why the '...
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  • 611
1 vote
0 answers
331 views

Is "barrel of eels" a common expression? What are alternatives

"To me, literature is something much more alive. More like a barrel of eels. When a writer creates a new eel, it wriggles its way into the barrel, muscles a path into the great teeming mass from which ...
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0 votes
1 answer
912 views

Phrase meaning of equal parts

IN THE CUT-THROAT realm of reality TV, “Wanted Down Under” is a survivor. A daytime fixture that has just finished its 13th season, the BBC documentary follows Britons contemplating relocating to ...
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0 votes
0 answers
66 views

Why do people say 'sat'? [duplicate]

A while ago, I think, I started hearing and reading people use the verb 'to sit' incorrectly, but it seems to becoming increasingly common. Such as "I am sat", "We are sat", "They were sat". Sit is a ...
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1 vote
0 answers
352 views

Why is the US referred to as "the Union" in "State of the Union"?

I wonder about the use of the word "Union" in the name "State of the Union", which is the US President's annual address to Congress. The phrase appears in the Constitution: He [the President] shall ...
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1 vote
1 answer
4k views

I am fine, or I am well, or I am good? [closed]

In grade school, eons ago, I was taught to say "I am fine." Today, most people say, "I am good." Recently, I received scorn for an old man saying, "I am fine," as it was argued that "fine" would ...
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17 votes
1 answer
7k views

Historically, did "Oh my Gosh" originate as an anti-God expression? [closed]

There is a tendency in traditionally Christian societies (grossly speaking, the West) to leave behind words or expression which allude to such heritage or faith. A familiar example is CE and BCE ...
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0 votes
2 answers
689 views

Am I using the word 'leverage' correctly ?

The sentence is, "I want to leverage my understanding of topic A with the knowledge of topic B to prepare myself well for a particular career". I want to convey that I already know topic A and ...
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1 vote
2 answers
77 views

In grammar, what do we call this specific usage of "this"?

In spoken American English, often times people who are telling a story use the determiner "this" not as a demonstrative, but rather as a word that serves to emphasize the impact of something....
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0 votes
1 answer
5k views

Is "In the both cases" correct?

I have personally never heard (or seen): in both cases being referred to by: in the both cases before; therefore, my first instinct was that it is an obvious mistake. However, looking up "in ...
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0 votes
1 answer
317 views

Is it OK to use two consecutive 'that' in a sentence? [duplicate]

Is the usage of 2 consecutive 'that' in the following sentence correct, because it looks a bit odd? Should these be separated by comma perhaps? "While I agree that strength and size definitely gives ...
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3 votes
1 answer
839 views

What is the history of the cursive p?

A friend of mine (relevant detail, he grew up and learned cursive in India) recently remarked to me that he missed the way that cursive "p"s used to be written. An example of this can be seen in the ...
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3 votes
3 answers
482 views

The use of "male"/"female" (instead of e.g. "man"/"woman") in everyday speech

In contemporary English, the terms "male" and "female" seem to be almost as commonly applied to people as "man" and "woman". For example, I see people posting questions on certain StackExchange sites ...
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