Miscellaneous language questions

For the discussion of language mechanics, grammar, vocabulary, trends, and other such linguistic topics, in english and other languages.

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Felstaff » Wed Apr 26, 2017 9:19 am UTC

It means the same as a cloyed barnet, a tufted mindy, a brittle whicker, or a shilly peeper.
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Eebster the Great » Thu Apr 27, 2017 4:53 am UTC

Felstaff wrote:It means the same as a cloyed barnet, a tufted mindy, a brittle whicker, or a shilly peeper.

wat

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Copper Bezel » Thu Apr 27, 2017 8:49 am UTC

A part of me would have believed "tufted mindy", enough that I looked it up, and I might just need to use that somewhere.
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Eebster the Great » Thu Apr 27, 2017 8:30 pm UTC

"Chili pepper" is the only one of those I could actually work out.

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Derek » Thu Apr 27, 2017 9:01 pm UTC

eSOANEM wrote:Huh, I guess it must be a lot more common this side of the pond; I can't imagine anyone here not knowing the phrase (this phrase is where the Harry Potter wizarding sense of "squib" comes from and was just assumed to be understood)

I've never heard it before, and I always thought that "squib" was a made up word, like "muggle".

Felstaff wrote:It means the same as a cloyed barnet, a tufted mindy, a brittle whicker, or a shilly peeper.

Ah yes, of course.

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Mega85 » Fri Apr 28, 2017 6:42 pm UTC

Something that someone said on the talk page of Wikipedia's fear of flying article.

I manually moved the stuff over from aviophobia to here because fear of flying already had a history. I pointed out that aviophobia is 1)not plain English, 2)two syllables longer than fear of flying, 3)a terribly constructed, illegitimate Greek-Latin hybrid, 4)a word that (ignoring the poor construction) means "Fear of Birds". Aviophobia simply isn't a legitimate word--it's not even in the OED


Is it true that "aviophobia" should actually mean fear of birds, rather than fear of flying?

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby eSOANEM » Fri Apr 28, 2017 9:58 pm UTC

Nah, that bit's wrong, but it's wrong because the compound's even worse than a latin-greek hybrid; it's a french-greek hybrid (with the avio- being from the french avion which is in turn coined from the latin avis). Anyway most of these phobiae aren't "real" words in the sense that most native english speakers won't be able to either reliably recall the name for a given phobia or reliably understand the name of a given phobia. They're all jargon and, in that sense, it'd be up to psychologists to decide which ones are actual words
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Soupspoon » Fri Apr 28, 2017 11:07 pm UTC

"Aerophobia" is the suggested term (can also refer to air currents), so far as I can tell. It is at least recognisable, to anyone who doesn't spell/pronounce "aeroplane" as "airplane", and even then...

But I might suggest "ptisiphobia" (from some brief research on the subject, indicating it is at least the right form of flight, not related to fleeing or stairway vertical displacements), which has a novelty value if not a ready-understandability one. But I might also be wrong, so keep the (related?) alternative word "pétagma" in mind as a root, I suppose.

Also employing tmesis in "I have ptisi-fucking-phobia, you schmuck!" has a svelte that's almost mnemonic!

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Mega85 » Sat Apr 29, 2017 1:33 am UTC

Dictionaries recognize "aviophobia" as being a valid word.

http://www.dictionary.com/browse/aviophobia?s=t

https://www.merriam-webster.com/medical/aviophobia

Dictionary.com says that perhaps "aviophobia" comes from "aviation", rather than the French "avion".

perhaps avi(ation) + -o- + -phobia

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Eebster the Great » Sat Apr 29, 2017 8:38 am UTC

If the word was first introduced in English, is there any meaningful way to tell? It seems like unless the first (notable) authors to employ the word explicitly stated the etymology, there would be no way to tell what was intended. Both make sense. (However, the English etymology does seem more plausible, as "aviation" and "phobia" are both English words that are highly recognizable to most speakers.)

I've wondered the same about "Big O notation." Knuth claimed that the "O" was supposed to be a capital Greek omicron, whereas most commentators seem to think it was actually a capital Latin o. But they are exactly the same glyph. What does it even mean to say that it "is" one or the other? It's a coined mathematical symbol with its own meaning.

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Soupspoon » Sat Apr 29, 2017 9:43 am UTC

For the Greeks, maybe Daedalus could have coined a term for fear regarding flight, as one who has experienced both flight and flight accidents. (And, away from language, but still talking of Daedalus...)

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Mega85 » Sun May 07, 2017 1:16 am UTC

Something someone said on a another forum.

It's probably just me, but "sibling" is a word I never became friends with. Not only don't I use it, but I've never heard anyone else use it in normal conversation. If someone said, "My mother's siblings are coming to visit" I wouldn't have a clue for several moments what you were talking about. :)

No, it's not you. 'Brother(s) and sister(s)' is preferred to 'siblings' in ordinary speech.


Would you say this is true? I find nothing strange about using the word "siblings" in normal speech. It's three syllables less than "brothers and sisters". "Brothers and sisters" can be too much of a mouthful.

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Angua » Sun May 07, 2017 8:52 am UTC

I use siblings all the time.
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby flicky1991 » Sun May 07, 2017 9:04 am UTC

For what? :P

I would probably only use "siblings" if it was in a generic context, like "some people have bad relationships with their siblings". If it was like the given example, where someone was talking about people related to a specific person, "brothers and sisters" is what would come to mind for me first (not that I'd have any trouble understanding "siblings" if it was used).
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Eebster the Great » Sun May 07, 2017 9:52 am UTC

I mostly use siblings as decoys when escaping from monsters.

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby HES » Sun May 07, 2017 11:14 am UTC

I often use the word sibling(s), sometimes even when speaking directly to a sister. "Morning, sibling".
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Angua » Sun May 07, 2017 11:20 am UTC

I don't know, asking people if they have siblings? To say 'they are siblings'. To be honest, I don't actually have to worry much about the brothers and sisters things, because I don't know that many people with enough siblings for it to make a difference.
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Zohar » Sun May 07, 2017 1:30 pm UTC

Non-native speaker here, but I also usually ask "do you have any siblings"
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Copper Bezel » Sun May 07, 2017 2:54 pm UTC

For me, that'd be the most likely case - it's unspecified because it's unknown. If I knew of a person's brother and sister and was referring to them, I'd say "brother and sister", not "siblings". And like Angua, if I have a mixed-gender set of siblings and was stating the fact of their relation, I'd use "siblings" there, too. It almost feels like an honorific thing, that it's harsh or impolite in some very subtle way to use "sibling" to specify known people with known genders.

I would be more likely to say "we're siblings" than "we're brother and sister", though, and I think that's simply because the relation and not the person is the thing being foregrounded.
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Mega85 » Sun May 07, 2017 3:37 pm UTC

Copper Bezel wrote:For me, that'd be the most likely case - it's unspecified because it's unknown. If I knew of a person's brother and sister and was referring to them, I'd say "brother and sister", not "siblings". And like Angua, if I have a mixed-gender set of siblings and was stating the fact of their relation, I'd use "siblings" there, too. It almost feels like an honorific thing, that it's harsh or impolite in some very subtle way to use "sibling" to specify known people with known genders.

I would be more likely to say "we're siblings" than "we're brother and sister", though, and I think that's simply because the relation and not the person is the thing being foregrounded.


Yeah. It would sound odd to refer to your brother or sister as your sibling, much like referring to your mother or father as your parent. I use the plural "siblings" mostly. The singular "sibling" is less common.

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby eSOANEM » Mon May 08, 2017 12:22 am UTC

I think I tend to use "siblings" if they're unknown (e.g. "do you have any siblings", "oh, what genders are your siblings?") or if they're known to be neither a man or a woman (e.g. "my partner's sibling") although in that latter case I might use "sib" instead. For specific people (of a binary gender), I'd usually use "brothers and sisters" or similar.

So moreorless what most others have said
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby gmalivuk » Mon May 08, 2017 3:21 pm UTC

In English books (i.e. I'm using the Google Books ngrams for this), the lemmas "brother" and "sister" are singular about 70% of the time, whereas "sibling" is singular less than 40% of the time.

"Sibling(s)" is used about 7% as often as "brother(s)" or "sister(s)" (btw this means "brothers and sisters" counts twice in the denominator but "siblings" only counts once in the numerator). "My sibling" and "my siblings", on the other hand, are together only 1% as common as "my brother(s)" or "my sister(s)" (and this only single-counts "my brothers and sisters" in the denominator, so the actual disparity is greater).

I suspect (but haven't bothered to check) that "sibling(s)" and "my sibling(s)" are both quite a lot less common in speaking than in writing, while at least the personal "my brother(s)" and "my sister(s)" are quite a bit more common in speaking than in writing.
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Eebster the Great » Mon May 08, 2017 9:05 pm UTC

Words like "parent," "child," "sibling," and "spouse" all seem to have roughly this same property to me. That's what makes the phrases "aunts and uncles" and "nieces and nephews" somewhat awkward, but particularly when you need the singular "aunt or uncle" or "niece or nephew", since there is no gender-neutral option.

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby flicky1991 » Mon May 08, 2017 9:13 pm UTC

"Nibling" exists as a gender-neutral neologism for "niece or nephew". I don't know of a similar term for "aunt or uncle".
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Soupspoon » Mon May 08, 2017 9:38 pm UTC

Don't forget languages that set such great store in familial relationships that not only is "father's brother" (or father) different from "mother's brother" (or father) when using the appropriate word for uncle (or grandfather), but it extends to "the male son of the sister of one's father" as distinct from every other permutation of (adoptive?)son/daughter of the (adoptive?)brother/sister of one's (step?)father/mother, rather than merely "cousin", with precise distinctions even out in "nth cousin m times removed" territory, where we might yet be happy with the basic term.

(I have two cousins who are first cousins, twice removed... I think. They are each a son of a son of a son of a sister of my father, anyway. And there's a young woman who I think is the daughter of a daughter of a daughter of a sister of my father, but I honestly can't work out most of that prolific side of the family, below each branching from my father's generation except my own father himself, and "cousin" usefully and purposefully catches it all without any linguistic reason to track or understand.)

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby flicky1991 » Mon May 08, 2017 9:52 pm UTC

The most obscure relative of mine (in terms of having to put terms on top of each other) that I'm aware of is my first cousin twice removed (who is someone that may be of interest to the kind of people that come into this thread). (I also have another first cousin twice removed that I've actually met, but she doesn't have a Wikipedia page. :P )
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Mega85 » Mon May 08, 2017 11:08 pm UTC

Eebster the Great wrote:Words like "parent," "child," "sibling," and "spouse" all seem to have roughly this same property to me. That's what makes the phrases "aunts and uncles" and "nieces and nephews" somewhat awkward, but particularly when you need the singular "aunt or uncle" or "niece or nephew", since there is no gender-neutral option.


Also "ladies and gentlemen". There's no gender-neutral option. No single word that refers either to a lady or a gentleman.

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby HES » Mon May 08, 2017 11:10 pm UTC

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Quizatzhaderac » Tue May 09, 2017 3:30 pm UTC

I think the thing about "Ladies and Gentlemen" is that the length seems to be a part of it. Either as a flourish "Ladies and gentlemen! children of all ages!: ..." or when the audiences attention is in question "Ladies and gentlemen, if I could have your attention please: ..."

It also tends to be logically equivalent to "everyone" and drawing a distinction between Man versus gentleman and woman versus lady is so archaic it seems like a deliberate insult "Ladies, gentlemen, and Kardashians: ..."
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Aiwendil » Tue May 09, 2017 3:56 pm UTC

The most obscure relative of mine (in terms of having to put terms on top of each other) that I'm aware of is my first cousin twice removed


I have a double third cousin. My father's father's mother's (i.e. great-grandmother's) sister is her father's father's mother (i.e. great-grandmother), and my father's father's father's (i.e. great-grandfather's) sister is her mother's father's mother (i.e. great-grandmother).

Also "ladies and gentlemen". There's no gender-neutral option. No single word that refers either to a lady or a gentleman.


Off the topic a bit, but whenever I can get away with it, I say either "lords and ladies" or "gentlemen and gentlewomen", or sometimes "gentlefolk". (I can't get away with it very often).

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Soupspoon » Tue May 09, 2017 4:01 pm UTC

In a more egalitarian and conducive setting, I have used variations upon "Brethren, Sistren and Othren".

...But probably best to know your audience (and/or have them know you even better) before more generalised use.


(British comedic speechifying tradition has "Ladles and Jellyspoons..!" Or start with the normal ladies before bait'n'switching.)

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby eSOANEM » Tue May 09, 2017 10:35 pm UTC

"ladies, gentlemen, honoured guests" is what I've usually seen suggested. It's respectful of nb folk (like me) but people who like to pretend we don't exist and can act as if it's a semicolon after gentlemen and that it's saying the ladies and gents are honour guests rather than providing a third option.
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Mega85 » Tue May 09, 2017 10:43 pm UTC

The word "sibling" is a word that was relatively recently revived from Old English. In Old English, the word meant a relative. Before it was revived, there was no gender neutral word meaning a brother or a sister.

An older brother or sister can be referred to as a big brother or big sister, but you wouldn't refer to a "big sibling" or "big siblings". The word "big" is not used with "sibling", at least not commonly used with such.

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Mega85 » Mon May 22, 2017 10:48 pm UTC

Why are humans referred to as "human beings"? Dogs aren't called "dog beings", cats aren't called "cat beings", sharks aren't called "shark beings" etc.

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Eebster the Great » Tue May 23, 2017 1:50 am UTC

Recently I've been seeing the term "human person," which I find even more irritating.

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby gmalivuk » Tue May 23, 2017 3:42 am UTC

Mega85 wrote:Why are humans referred to as "human beings"? Dogs aren't called "dog beings", cats aren't called "cat beings", sharks aren't called "shark beings" etc.
Could be because "dog", "cat", and "shark" were never adjectives.
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Soupspoon » Tue May 23, 2017 12:00 pm UTC

Eebster the Great wrote:Recently I've been seeing the term "human person," which I find even more irritating.

I don't 'like' it, but it opens up the possibility of personhood extending so that a non-human person (that's a bit negative-sounding, but an "orangutan person", a "dolphin person", a "Nexus 6 person", a "horta person", etc would be considered neutral, outside(?) of latent anthropocemntric prejudice) is as valid a person as a human one.

And "human being" matches (as per gmlivuk's observation) "canine being", "hive-mind being" or "energy being". A "being", I would say, is an entity possibly not graced with whatever arbitrary level of sentience, self-awareness or whatever that grants personhood.

(Energy beings are often depicted as at least one more level up than our own coveted position on the tree of life, or ascended forms of us and our alien contemporaries, but they're also a handy "mindless monster of the week" creeping through the space-ship's electrical/electronic systems more like a virus or bacterium, unknowing and/or uncaring of their status as 'invasive species' in our artificial (and artificially rich in 'food'?) ecosystem that is our reactor or life-support systems...)

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Eebster the Great » Tue May 23, 2017 6:56 pm UTC

Why would you need "person" at all in that context? Why not just human, orangutan, dolphi, Nexus 6, horta, or whatever? I can accept that there may be some contexts where the phrase would make sense, but the way I've seen it was just more like "I'm a human person, and I have rights!"

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Soupspoon » Tue May 23, 2017 7:25 pm UTC

The thing is that it's(/they are) a person, "human" is a qualifying adjective. Two of those are hominid persons, and three of them are significantly more humaniform than the other two.

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Copper Bezel » Tue May 23, 2017 8:52 pm UTC

I don't feel like (partial) redundancy for emphasis is anything particularly novel.

"Human being" is also a fixed phrase with built-in associations that don't come with either word separately.
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