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123 votes
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Is "You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din!" still considered a compliment in English?

It's a cardinal error to confuse a depiction of bigotry with bigotry itself. Yes, the narrator of the poem is racist, not only by modern standards but in the opinion of the author of the poem. The ...
Michael Lorton's user avatar
83 votes
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Should I say "ATM" or "cashpoint" in the UK?

Source: I'm in my early thirties and have lived my whole life in South East England. I would personally use the term "cash machine" (or the abbreviated version "machine", see further comments below). ...
AndyT's user avatar
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77 votes

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

Quite the reverse. It's an example of a 'minced oath', where a similar-sounding word is substituted for the name of God in an expletive so as to avoid blasphemy. In 19th-century fiction, if a 'bad' ...
Kate Bunting's user avatar
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65 votes
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What does President Obama's “pro-knowledge” remark mean?

Borowitz is a writer of satire, his pieces are intended to be parody. Satirical works are often characterized by one-off language and terminology, in this case the idea of being "pro-knowledge." ...
brandondoge's user avatar
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54 votes

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

Thou/thee/thy/thine still exist in some dialects in British English. However, unless you are one of those who speak the dialect, it is not used in general spoken and written English. https://en....
Greybeard's user avatar
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47 votes

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

As a first-language English speaker, my experience is that I have come to automatically associate the specific terms "20th century" and "21st century" with the 19--s and 20--s ...
herisson's user avatar
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44 votes

Is "You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din!" still considered a compliment in English?

Given that a few, presumably well-read, people here have different recollections of the poem, and different interpretations, you would be unwise to make assumptions as to the effect on your audience. ...
Chris H's user avatar
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36 votes

Is "You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din!" still considered a compliment in English?

My dad (native to Oklahoma) uses it, and I picked up the usage from him. I believe I've heard my mother-in-law (native to Ohio) use it as well. The way we use it isn't a compliment. Its more an ...
T.E.D.'s user avatar
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34 votes

Is "You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din!" still considered a compliment in English?

Many thanks for directing my attention to this intriguing and controversial poem from one of the Children of Empire. "A racist would not have glorified Gunga Din in the way Kipling did," wrote ...
English Student's user avatar
28 votes

Is "You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din!" still considered a compliment in English?

There are several good reasons to avoid it as a cultural reference, at least among acquaintances or strangers: It's likely obsolete. The poem and the film are both quite old. Someone for whom the ...
Alex P's user avatar
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26 votes

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

To the great majority of English speakers, 'thou' only sounds like quasi-theatrical, Shakespearean, or Biblical speech. Currently, it is not recognized grammatically as anything other than an archaic ...
Mitch's user avatar
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24 votes

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

Yes, I have seen and heard many native speakers of English make the same mistake. And it works exactly the same way in Dutch: you say de 18e eeuw when you mean 1700–1799. And Dutchmen frequently make ...
Cerberus - Reinstate Monica's user avatar
19 votes

Is "You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din!" still considered a compliment in English?

I, along with much of my family, use this phrase regularly as a compliment for someone who possesses the fortitude to do something that I doubt I could do. For us, there is never anything insulting ...
awgiedawgie's user avatar
19 votes

Is "You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din!" still considered a compliment in English?

This poem is an explicit reference to the parable of the rich man and Lazarus: Givin' drink to poor damned souls, An' I'll get a swig in hell from Gunga Din! Yes, Din! Din! Din! You ...
Michael's user avatar
  • 304
19 votes
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“Out of the mouths of babes”: Is this idiom strictly used to refer to children?

Most dictionaries explain that this biblical passage has survived in modern English as a proverb about children. For example, Dictionary.com points out two qualities of babes this proverb refers to: ...
fev's user avatar
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18 votes
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What is a word for battery "longevity"?

You may not like longevity or lifespan, but these are the terms used in the technical world. For example, here is how cleantechnica defines longevity: Longevity refers to the number of charge cycles ...
fev's user avatar
  • 34.3k
16 votes

Is "You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din!" still considered a compliment in English?

Well....I think I am a latecomer on this one....but I think context may be the true test of the meaning. I have a personal example....my brother, I am his sister, called me on the phone after my niece ...
Liz's user avatar
  • 169
15 votes

How do you call..? vs. What do you call...?

We are confusing and conflating these forms here: 1. How do you say ... (in X)? This is asking for a word or phrase, perhaps specifying in language X. Example: *How do you say you're welcome in ...
frank's user avatar
  • 1,251
15 votes

Should I say "ATM" or "cashpoint" in the UK?

Source: I'm in my early fifties and have lived from age 5 in South East England. In colloquial English, I've never heard anything but cashpoint or machine. Which is used depends on the context. If ...
Andrew Leach's user avatar
  • 102k
15 votes

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

The term "holier-than-thou" remains in somewhat common usage, probably explicitly because the "thou" sounds both antiquated and Biblical.
Yes - that Jake.'s user avatar
14 votes

What does President Obama's “pro-knowledge” remark mean?

Andy Borowitz is a comedian and that article is very much tongue in cheek. 'Pro-knowledge' is not a set phrase; it means what it says, that it is in favor of knowledge. It isn't restricted to math ...
Mitch's user avatar
  • 71.6k
13 votes
Accepted

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

The Only thing I can think of is if a suitor were being extremely formal in a proposal of marriage: Wouldst thou do me the honor.... It might also be used in a light teasing manner, pretending to be ...
mtugglet's user avatar
  • 243
13 votes

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

Regarding the idea of using thou to, as you put it, humiliate an opponent by being overly familiar, that would not work in English because most English speakers don't know that thou used to be the ...
Mark Foskey's user avatar
  • 1,969
13 votes
Accepted

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

A pseudonym is any time you are using a name other than your own. A pen name is when an author publishes under a different name. A nom de plume is when a pretentious author publishes under a different ...
DJClayworth's user avatar
13 votes

“Out of the mouths of babes”: Is this idiom strictly used to refer to children?

It's not only used when the very young come up with something wise (or intelligent) beyond their years. It's used when wisdom comes from any unexpected source ... but there is necessarily an ...
Edwin Ashworth's user avatar
10 votes

“Out of the mouths of babes”: Is this idiom strictly used to refer to children?

This is one of those phrases from the King James Bible which passed into current English when that was the only translation in common use. (Psalm 8 verse 2) It's a comment traditionally made when a ...
Kate Bunting's user avatar
  • 26.1k
9 votes
Accepted

What does “the New York egoscape” mean?

Any word you see that ends in -scape, Oishi-san, refers to a scene or view of something [TFD]. Thus we get amalgams like landscape seascape dreamscape and so on. The point is, these are ...
Robusto's user avatar
  • 152k
8 votes
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What does “crawl over a pile of hot coals” mean?

It is not a set phrase. In your example, the sentence is being used as hyperbole (or exaggeration). The writer is trying to convey that Kelley would have done anything in order to make the interview, ...
DyingIsFun's user avatar
  • 17.9k
8 votes

Whence comes increasing usage of "do" for "have" in ordering food?

It appears to be an old usage, especially in BrE and AusE. To do - to offer or consume: (a) to eat or drink, usu. with the relevant food or drink attached, e.g. do a couple of pints, do a burger. ...
user 66974's user avatar
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