66 votes
Accepted

Why is it "ladies and gentlemen" instead of "gentlemen and ladies"?

It probably has to do with the phonetic and metrical properties of "ladies and gentlemen" versus "gentlemen and ladies." Say them both out loud and see which one sounds better to you, intuitively. ...
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51 votes
Accepted

Etymology of "fairy"

According to Wiktionary, Galician, Catalan and Occitan have a word fada "fairy" and Italian has fata with the same meaning, which seems like a clear confirmation of a Vulgar Latin form *fata meaning "...
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  • 73.3k
48 votes

“kinda”, “sorta”, “coulda”, “shoulda”, “lotta”, “oughta”, “betcha”, "tseasy", etc. What are these?

Short answer:It's a contraction. These are modified in pronunciation beyond the more normal form's simple truncation, but they are the same thing, fundamentally. Essentially, it's a form of ...
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  • 1,944
37 votes

A word for "using two words next to each other that mean the same thing"?

The word you want is pleonasm: Pleonasm (/ˈpliːənæzəm/; from Greek πλεονασμός (pleonasmós), from πλέον (pleon), meaning "more, too much") is the use of more words or parts of words than are ...
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  • 20.8k
36 votes
Accepted

“kinda”, “sorta”, “coulda”, “shoulda”, “lotta”, “oughta”, “betcha”, "tseasy", etc. What are these?

In the spoken language, these examples are strings of words where the realisation of the strings in speech is quite different from the citation forms of the individual words. A citation form is the ...
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26 votes

Doesn't English have vowel harmony?

English doesn't have vowel harmony. "Vowel harmony" refers to situations where there is some process that changes vowels to be in the same class as other vowels in the word, and/or there is a ...
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  • 73.3k
24 votes

Removal of a repeated syllable for ease of pronunciation

Wikipedia says: Haplology (from Greek ἁπλόος haplóos "simple" and λόγος lógos, "speech") is defined as the elimination of a syllable when two identical or similar syllables occur ...
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  • 57.9k
22 votes

A word for "using two words next to each other that mean the same thing"?

Tautology - Unnecessary repetition, usually in close proximity, of the same word, phrase, idea, argument, etc. The saying of the same thing twice in different words generally considered to be a fault ...
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18 votes

Explanation and rules for adding and subtracting 'r's in British pronunciation?

Rhotic English is a term to describes varieties of English in which orthographic R is usually pronounced, even at the end of a syllable. In non-rhotic varieties of English - such as Southern Standard ...
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17 votes
Accepted

Term for using "thingy-esque" phrases rather than a common word

I absolutely loved this question. Of course, we can all think of a handful of words like thingy, that simply act as a stand-in word for the word we are thinking of but cannot, at present, grasp. The ...
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  • 792
17 votes

Is there any difference between "nexus" and "locus"?

Thank you for researching your question so carefully. To the extent that there is a difference between these two words,you can most clearly see the difference by looking to their derivations. Both ...
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  • 9,440
15 votes

“kinda”, “sorta”, “coulda”, “shoulda”, “lotta”, “oughta”, “betcha”, "tseasy", etc. What are these?

They are eye-dialect spellings designed to make the ordinary way these phrases are spoken appear careless or substandard.
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15 votes

“kinda”, “sorta”, “coulda”, “shoulda”, “lotta”, “oughta”, “betcha”, "tseasy", etc. What are these?

In light of Auracaria's and your comments below, consider calling these linguistic reductions. Linguistic reductions are lost sounds in words. This happens in spoken English. For instance, "...
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15 votes
Accepted

Do laypersons understand medical terms?

Translation is a difficult task. Cultures are different, situations are different, histories are different. English is interesting because it has a mixed heritage for many medical terms. For many ...
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14 votes
Accepted

Is there such a thing as an unvoiced vowel?

Voiceless vowels are quite possible, and occur in one way or another in many languages. After all, all vowels and all consonants that are whispered are ipso facto voiceless. Whisper [a] and you have ...
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  • 99.4k
14 votes

What do you call it when you "extend" a word?

Perhaps you mean the process of attaching suffixes and/or prefixes to a root word to make a whole family of related words, like hand, handy, handiness, unhand, unhanded, and so on. The name for that ...
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  • 1,641
14 votes
Accepted

What is the English term for "unwittingly misspelling words based on their pronunciation?"

Consider phonetic spelling. Phonetic spelling constitutes an alteration of ordinary spelling that better represents the spoken language, that employs only characters of the regular alphabet, and ...
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13 votes

“kinda”, “sorta”, “coulda”, “shoulda”, “lotta”, “oughta”, “betcha”, "tseasy", etc. What are these?

It can be described as a relaxed pronunciation type of elision.
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  • 2,068
13 votes

Why is it "ladies and gentlemen" instead of "gentlemen and ladies"?

It comes from "My Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen". Titled men come first (My Lords); then their spouses [My] Ladies; Ladies also include non-titled ladies; and finally, untitled men (Gentlemen). ...
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  • 26.2k
12 votes
Accepted

Word meaning "its meaning stands alone"

Other answers seem to have overlooked the fact that you are requesting a term from linguistics. I don't think axiomatic is what you're after. I believe the term you are looking for is categorematic. ...
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11 votes

"We went swimming later in the afternoon, Jack and I."

We went swimming later in the afternoon, Jack and I This sentence has been done something to. It's an example of the syntactic rule of Right-Dislocation. The sentence it's transformed from is Jack ...
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  • 99.4k
11 votes
Accepted

Is there a well-known term for the synonym or near-synonym "telescoping" words?

I think kangaroo word is the closest term for this. A playful term for a word that carries within it a synonym of itself--such as regulate (rule), indolent (idle), and encourage (urge). It's ...
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  • 51k
11 votes

What is it called when one person calls another something they metaphorically resemble?

Your first three examples are of terms of endearment. The fourth is simply a description, rather than a name, although "Solid" alone could be used as a nickname, based on physical characteristics. ...
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10 votes

Term for using "thingy-esque" phrases rather than a common word

You seem to be talking about placeholder names Placeholder names are words that can refer to objects or people whose names are temporarily forgotten, irrelevant, or unknown in the context in which ...
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  • 20.8k
10 votes

Are "I scream" and "Ice cream" homophones, or do we have another term here?

The simple answer is no. Ice cream and nitrate are not homophonous with I scream and night rate. If you go by tchrist’s comment above, it appears that some dialects of English pronounce the initial ...
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10 votes

What is the English term for "unwittingly misspelling words based on their pronunciation?"

I'm not sure if it will work perfectly, but you might be able to use phoneticise. phoneticize verb to represent speech in writing using a system in which individual symbols reflect speech ...
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  • 6,297
9 votes

Term for using "thingy-esque" phrases rather than a common word

I can think of several words that are thingy-type words, like gizmo, widget, gubbins, thingumajig, wotsit, but I don't know of a word for those words. Nonce word is the closest, but to qualify as one ...
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  • 3,336
9 votes
Accepted

How much of the English lexis comes from each of its influences?

Wikipedia has the following pie chart showing the word origins: It shows the breakdown as Latin (including words used only in scientific / medical / legal contexts) ≈ 29% French ≈ 29% Germanic ≈ 26% ...
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9 votes

I am [who/whom] G-d made me

If I could choose neither, I would, since I'm not sure if the sentence is grammatical (I have asked a separate question about that here: Is "I am who(m) God made me" grammatical?). If I had ...
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  • 73.3k
9 votes
Accepted

Inserting meaningless phrase in sentences

It is an example of a filler phrase, in this case a parenthetical filler phrase since it is located in the middle of a sentence. Perhaps the most infamous filler in BrE is innit (isn't it?): "I'm ...
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