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 poxic » Fri Oct 13, 2017 10:59 pm UTC

Sounds blended to me. Some South African bits, some American midwestish. There's almost a bit of English Quebecker in the way he enunciates things, but that's probably not where it comes from.

However, I also kinda suck at accents.
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Derek » Sat Oct 14, 2017 1:26 am UTC

Hmm, true it's definitely rhotic. I think what was registering as British to me was that it sounds like he has the trap-bath split, or maybe all of his /æ/'s are shifted back.

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby suffer-cait » Wed Nov 22, 2017 9:45 am UTC

Why does a song mean "a small sum of money"? I used it in a pun today, and then realised its a little bizzare. Or insulting to musicians?
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby HES » Wed Nov 22, 2017 9:59 am UTC

Wild guess, that it relates to organ grinders where you would pay a small fee for a song? So not particularly insulting?
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Soupspoon » Wed Nov 22, 2017 10:08 am UTC

suffer-cait wrote:Why does a song mean "a small sum of money"? I used it in a pun today, and then realised its a little bizzare. Or insulting to musicians?

Prior to recordings (and copyright extensions!) a musician may well have bartered an instance of performing his(/her) knowledge and ability for something tangible or otherwise 'useful' like a meal, a reasonably comfortable place to sleep, etc. However good the performance (and it may be usefully repeated or even contain something akin to news in some cases, or just spirit-stirring in others) it still wasn't something that the average publican or other non-musical trader could monetise in turn.

So, effectively, goods and/or services that might have earnt coin-of-the-realm, or even a brace of opportunistically poached hares, have instead gone "for a song", something without anything like the equivalent resale value of the non-musical exchanges that would have been accepted.

And depends upon the recipient being willing to take that 'payment'. "I like your voice and you sing a good song. Give me and the lads here a few ditties and I'll make sure you're alright for a few jars of ale, and a warm place by the fire…" A charitable exchange that deprives the performer of nothing but isn't an outright carte-blanche for them to beg and scrounge.

(Ninjaed: that'd be a later version of what I was thinking of, leading all the way up to modern buskers and street-artists of all kinds. With, doubtless, the same mix of opinions between those who highly enjoy the adhoc entertainment and those that don't see the difference between them and crumpled beggers with a crumpled Starbucks cup held out, without reciprocation of benefit, for change.)

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby ThirdParty » Wed Nov 22, 2017 4:46 pm UTC

suffer-cait wrote:Why does a song mean "a small sum of money"? I used it in a pun today, and then realised its a little bizzare. Or insulting to musicians?
Google says that a sheet containing a printed song was a very cheap item one could buy from a street vendor. It also offers a quote from All's Well That Ends Well, Act III Scene 2, which might be an early example of the expression:

Shakespeare wrote:By my troth, I take my young lord to be a very melancholy man. ... he will look upon his boot and sing; mend the ruff and sing; ask questions and sing; pick his teeth and sing. I know a man that had this trick of melancholy sold a goodly manor for a song.

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Eebster the Great » Thu Nov 23, 2017 6:57 pm UTC

I assume that's just a British expression?

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Liri » Thu Nov 23, 2017 7:26 pm UTC

Eebster the Great wrote:I assume that's just a British expression?

Bought/sold it for a song? I don't think so.
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Eebster the Great » Thu Nov 23, 2017 10:40 pm UTC

It's the first time I've heard it.

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby poxic » Thu Nov 23, 2017 11:27 pm UTC

I haven't heard it for ages, but "bought for a song" used to be common around here.
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Soupspoon » Thu Nov 23, 2017 11:42 pm UTC

Don't misunderestimate its cromulency in Olde Albion, sirrah.

(i.e., I definitely can't speak for the rest of the Anglosphere, and may not even represent a sufficient majority of the UK, but it certainly seems to be a phrase I'd assume I could use in conversation with a neighbour and not encounter outright puzzlement. Top of my Google hits on the phrase is a page about a TV programme of relative vintage (plus revivals), that probably reinforced (if not provoked) such understanding in the general populace and chattering classes. It may have escaped the attention of Millenials, of course, nor need it have been brought to your attention. Until now!)

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby eSOANEM » Thu Nov 23, 2017 11:59 pm UTC

Relatedly, for people on the USican side of the pond, do you have an equivalent of the phrase "in for a penny, in for a pound"? It's meaning's relatively self-explanatory but just to be clear it's the idea that once you're committed you might as well go the whole hog (i.e. if you're already in on a bet or scheme for a penny, you might as well go for a pound instead).
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby poxic » Fri Nov 24, 2017 12:03 am UTC

It's familiar but I'm not sure I'd use it. I'm more likely to say "if you're going to do it, do it".
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Liri » Fri Nov 24, 2017 12:14 am UTC

There's "in for a dime, in for a dollar" to preserve the alliteration.

But yeah, I'm probably more familiar with the original anyway.
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Derek » Fri Nov 24, 2017 12:25 am UTC

I've heard "sold for a song" plenty of times in the US.

eSOANEM wrote:Relatedly, for people on the USican side of the pond, do you have an equivalent of the phrase "in for a penny, in for a pound"? It's meaning's relatively self-explanatory but just to be clear it's the idea that once you're committed you might as well go the whole hog (i.e. if you're already in on a bet or scheme for a penny, you might as well go for a pound instead).

"In for a penny, in for a pound" is also perfectly ordinary in the US.

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Eebster the Great » Fri Nov 24, 2017 1:04 am UTC

It's certainly known, but I'm not sure "ordinary" is the way I'd describe it. I can't remember ever hearing anyone say it in person.

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Soupspoon » Fri Nov 24, 2017 1:09 am UTC

One imagines "you might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb"[or, sic, "hanged", but I know the idiom primarily in the 'incorrect' form] is a more portable phrase. But with definite connotations of getting deeper in doo-doo, rather than merely committing to an act of any colour of morality/legality/problemicity to it,

OTOH, you call your 1¢ pieces 'pennies' and hold onto Imperial (ironic!) weights that includes the lb (such a quantity of most things invariably costing >$0.01), so maybe you can still make your own internal senses of the phrase, if you so wished or were forced to by knowing naught of old Blighty and her traditional 240-fold increase betwixt the one unit and the other.

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby ThirdParty » Fri Nov 24, 2017 3:35 am UTC

Soupspoon wrote:OTOH, you call your 1¢ pieces 'pennies' and hold onto Imperial (ironic!) weights that includes the lb (such a quantity of most things invariably costing >$0.01), so maybe you can still make your own internal senses of the phrase
I've always thought of "in for a penny, in for a pound" as an archaism, not a Britishism, in the same category as "waste not, want not": just like the latter is using an archaic sense of the word "want" to mean something roughly like "lack", the former is using an archaic sense of the word "pound" to mean something roughly like "dollar". The fact that some people might still be using the word "pound" archaically isn't really something I think about.

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby gmalivuk » Mon Nov 27, 2017 4:40 pm UTC

Eebster the Great wrote:It's certainly known, but I'm not sure "ordinary" is the way I'd describe it. I can't remember ever hearing anyone say it in person.
I mean, you also say you'd never heard "for a song", so I'm not sure your remembered experience of idioms is typical.

According to the BYU web-based English corpus, "in for a pound" is about as common in the US as the UK.
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Eebster the Great » Mon Nov 27, 2017 8:06 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
Eebster the Great wrote:It's certainly known, but I'm not sure "ordinary" is the way I'd describe it. I can't remember ever hearing anyone say it in person.
I mean, you also say you'd never heard "for a song", so I'm not sure your remembered experience of idioms is typical.

According to the BYU web-based English corpus, "in for a pound" is about as common in the US as the UK.

But it doesn't seem to be remotely common in either country.

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Nov 28, 2017 1:28 am UTC

How often should an idiom be used to be considered "remotely common"?

Is "happy as a clam" remotely common?
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby chridd » Tue Nov 28, 2017 1:42 am UTC

"Happy as a clam" doesn't seem at all common to me. I've heard people talk about it, but I'm not sure I've ever heard it actually used in conversation (or if I have it was probably like once or twice). I kind of feel that's true with a lot of idioms? At least, I have memories of hearing people give examples of idioms and feeling that was true of them. (I don't know whether that's because I don't notice them, or am not around the sort of people who use those idioms, or if there are some idioms that people just don't use that much despite being widely known.)
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Nov 28, 2017 2:09 am UTC

Most four-word phrases aren't actually that common, though, and "happy as a clam" shows up as frequently as "in for a pound" in that corpus.
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Soupspoon » Tue Nov 28, 2017 3:41 pm UTC

At the end of the day, it's a dog-eat-dog world, with billions and billions of phrases and not enough time in the day to do them all justice. The average man on the street would have to work time and a half, even assuming that this very issue is like a red rag to a bull, for them all to gain due prominence. A few rising stars might well outshine the also-rans, but you can't tar with the same brush all those others that are not actually dead in the water as beyond the pale. Especially when some people, likes yours truly, does nobody any favours 'cos they make sure that at least half of them are below average by avoiding cliches like the plague!!!

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby eSOANEM » Tue Nov 28, 2017 5:13 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
Most four-word phrases aren't actually that common, though, and "happy as a clam" shows up as frequently as "in for a pound" in that corpus.


And "in for a pound" is the second half of the full phrase and frequently dropped (I definitely hear "in for a penny" much more often than the full "in for a penny, in for pound")
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Nov 28, 2017 6:00 pm UTC

Actually it looks like in British English "in for a penny" is more common than "in for a pound", while in the US the counts are pretty similar (possibly because Americans are less familiar with the full expression and so often say the whole thing).
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby doogly » Wed Nov 29, 2017 5:42 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:How often should an idiom be used to be considered "remotely common"?

Is "happy as a clam" remotely common?


It's not as good as "happy as a pig in shit" but it'll do.
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Derek » Fri Dec 01, 2017 8:13 am UTC

In a random Reddit thread someone made the claim that English is the only language with a word equivalent to the auxiliary meanings of "do", such as:

* I did come home. (Intensifier)
* I didn't come home. (Required by negative construction)
* Did you come home? (Creates a question)

This immediately sounded like pop-linguistic bull to me. I can believe that maybe no language has one word for all three uses, but I'm sure there are many examples of comparable words for each of these in other languages. Do any of you know some examples?

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Eebster the Great » Fri Dec 01, 2017 9:28 am UTC

The verb "do" doesn't create a question, it is just required for some constructions the way it is required for some negation. It plays the role another auxiliary verb or copula would play when none is present.

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Zohar » Fri Dec 01, 2017 4:49 pm UTC

In Hebrew I would probably use the word for "Truly" for any of these - "I truly came home"/"In truth I came home" etc. Including as a question. It would sound pretty natural. So I call bullshit.
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Grop » Fri Dec 01, 2017 10:24 pm UTC

It might be particular that that word would be an auxiliary verb. Having words for indicating emphasis, interrogation or negation certainly is nothing special.


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