Words you think English should have or bring back.

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Re: Words you think English should have or bring back.

Postby Iulus Cofield » Fri Jan 14, 2011 8:50 pm UTC

True, I tried to express that in the earlier post, but wasn't very clear.

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Re: Words you think English should have or bring back.

Postby Monika » Fri Jan 14, 2011 9:26 pm UTC

English should be able to distinguish between "belong to" as in "you belong to me" meaning "we belong together" and "belong to" in the sense of possession ... as expressed in "gehören zu" und "gehören" in German. E.g. Alaska belongs to the US (is part of), but Jersey and Guernsey belong to England (are property of ... well more precisely they belong to the Queen).
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Re: Words you think English should have or bring back.

Postby Iulus Cofield » Fri Jan 14, 2011 9:34 pm UTC

I always thought "you belong to me" was possessive, as in "I will possess your heart", but I see your point in the other examples.

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Re: Words you think English should have or bring back.

Postby Eebster the Great » Fri Jan 14, 2011 11:14 pm UTC

Well, the usage "I belong here" or "we belong together" is already fairly distinguished as it is an intransitive use of the verb, but otherwise I do agree to some extent.

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Re: Words you think English should have or bring back.

Postby RebeccaRGB » Sat Jan 15, 2011 5:00 am UTC

How about making the distinction with "belongs with" vs "belongs to"?
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Re: Words you think English should have or bring back.

Postby Eebster the Great » Sat Jan 15, 2011 5:47 am UTC

RebeccaRGB wrote:How about making the distinction with "belongs with" vs "belongs to"?

Yes, that's what I was trying to say when I didn't.

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Re: Words you think English should have or bring back.

Postby RebeccaRGB » Thu Jan 20, 2011 1:51 am UTC

I've always thought I needed a way to be able to say "thank you" and "you're welcome" at the same time. It just occurred to me to try thank you're welcome!
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Re: Words you think English should have or bring back.

Postby Eebster the Great » Thu Jan 20, 2011 5:21 am UTC

When would you ever need to say both at the same time?

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Re: Words you think English should have or bring back.

Postby Mapar » Thu Jan 20, 2011 11:24 am UTC

Oimoiokatalichiphobia


That would be homoiokatalèksiaphobia, if you borrow from Ancient Greek, like all Greek loanwords. :D

(after ὁμοιοκαταληξία, reference:http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/morph?l=o%28moiokatalhci%2Fa&la=greek&prior=o%28moiokata/lhktos )
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Re: Words you think English should have or bring back.

Postby RebeccaRGB » Thu Jan 20, 2011 6:39 pm UTC

Eebster the Great wrote:When would you ever need to say both at the same time?

I do something for someone, they thank me and then compliment me in return. I need to say "you're welcome" in response to the thanks and "thank you" in response to the compliment.
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Re: Words you think English should have or bring back.

Postby Eebster the Great » Thu Jan 20, 2011 8:28 pm UTC

RebeccaRGB wrote:
Eebster the Great wrote:When would you ever need to say both at the same time?

I do something for someone, they thank me and then compliment me in return. I need to say "you're welcome" in response to the thanks and "thank you" in response to the compliment.

Sounds to me like you're responding to do different things . . .

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Re: Words you think English should have or bring back.

Postby firechicago » Thu Jan 20, 2011 10:52 pm UTC

RebeccaRGB wrote:
Eebster the Great wrote:When would you ever need to say both at the same time?

I do something for someone, they thank me and then compliment me in return. I need to say "you're welcome" in response to the thanks and "thank you" in response to the compliment.


I think the appropriate response there is "You're welcome, and thank you for the compliment." Anything else would be terribly confusing as to what part was responding to what statement. And I'm not sure coming up with a single word to respond to two distinct and grammatically unrelated statements would do much to make things clearer.

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Re: Words you think English should have or bring back.

Postby Kewangji » Sat Jan 22, 2011 1:43 pm UTC

Mapar wrote:
Oimoiokatalichiphobia


That would be homoiokatalèksiaphobia, if you borrow from Ancient Greek, like all Greek loanwords. :D

(after ὁμοιοκαταληξία, reference:http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/morph?l=o%28moiokatalhci%2Fa&la=greek&prior=o%28moiokata/lhktos )
I couldn't find it in Ancient Greek, so I borrowed it from contemporary Greek (via google translate). Was this a terrible idea? >_>
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Re: Words you think English should have or bring back.

Postby Mapar » Sat Jan 22, 2011 7:56 pm UTC

Kewangji wrote:
Mapar wrote:
Oimoiokatalichiphobia


That would be homoiokatalèksiaphobia, if you borrow from Ancient Greek, like all Greek loanwords. :D

(after ὁμοιοκαταληξία, reference:http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/morph?l=o%28moiokatalhci%2Fa&la=greek&prior=o%28moiokata/lhktos )
I couldn't find it in Ancient Greek, so I borrowed it from contemporary Greek (via google translate). Was this a terrible idea? >_>

If you want to make up words, Ancient Greek is always a better idea :P (and that perseus site is awesome, by the way, as both a Latin/Greek dictionary and text resource)
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Re: Words you think English should have or bring back.

Postby al-iksir » Wed Feb 02, 2011 1:22 pm UTC

I am missing a word for "say nothing" or "keep silent". Basically a verb to "tacit", like tacere in Italian/Latin.

Examples:
Where have you been, she asked.
He did not reply / did not say anything / fell silent / ?
What have you done, she asked.
He kept/continued saying nothing / ?

Si tacuisses, philosophus mansisses.
If you had been silent, you would have remained a philosopher.
If you had remained silent, ...
If you had kept quiet, ...

Is there a more elegant way to translate this Latin saying?

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Re: Words you think English should have or bring back.

Postby Iulus Cofield » Mon Feb 07, 2011 8:00 am UTC

I've discovered some lexical gaps whilst writing a paper on Voltaire. The concepts are nothing new, so I'm rather surprised I can't find existing words for them.

Needed: The belief that natural disasters are caused by divine wrath
Proposed: Theomasticism, from theomastix, an obscure word meaning "a punisher of (i.e. on behalf of) God"

Needed: The belief that life is miserable, but preferable to suicide.
Proposed: ??? Maybe "passive automasochism"?

I'm sure I'll run into a few more before I'm done.

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Re: Words you think English should have or bring back.

Postby Eebster the Great » Mon Feb 07, 2011 9:07 am UTC

Iulus Cofield wrote:Needed: The belief that natural disasters are caused by divine wrath
Proposed: Theomasticism, from theomastix, an obscure word meaning "a punisher of (i.e. on behalf of) God"

Natural disasters are already frequently called "acts of God." I think the belief you are describing is simply a part of Providentialism.

Needed: The belief that life is miserable, but preferable to suicide.
Proposed: ??? Maybe "passive automasochism"?

This sounds a lot more like Schopenhauer than Voltaire . . .

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Re: Words you think English should have or bring back.

Postby Iulus Cofield » Mon Feb 07, 2011 9:23 am UTC

Providentialism encompasses it, but saying "Providentialism is the belief that God causes natural disasters" is a reductio ad absurdum.
Edit: Now that I think about it, what I really need is a term for "the belief that God causes natural disasters, which can be prevented by appeasing him". I propose ???.

The old woman in Candide expresses the idea, and Schopenhauer didn't coin a term for this either :?

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Re: Words you think English should have or bring back.

Postby Eebster the Great » Mon Feb 07, 2011 12:37 pm UTC

Iulus Cofield wrote:The old woman in Candide expresses the idea, and Schopenhauer didn't coin a term for this either :?

No, normally it's just called pessimism.

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Re: Words you think English should have or bring back.

Postby shniz » Tue May 10, 2011 4:58 am UTC

This topic was mentioned earlier in this thread. I thought I'd bring it back up. It was the topic of inclusive and exclusive "we". I had written a paper on it some time ago and I thought that I would share some of it with you all. I was not the most eloquent writer at the time, but the idea gets across I think.

Whenever speaking the use of the first person plural pronoun and its respective other forms are almost always in use (we, us, our, ours, ourselves). In many instances this does not pose a problem related to misunderstanding. But in some occasions it does. Things that I have noticed as I speak are that there is no distinction between using the word “we” as being inclusive or exclusive to the audience. When one says “we” does one mean “oneself and the addressee” (inclusive; where the addressee is involved in the sentence) or “oneself and a third party” (exclusive; where the addressee is not involved in the sentence). Though this is a small little quandary I try my best to be precise when I communicate in a formal setting. To alleviate this I often do is when I first begin story or paragraph, the first time I would use the word “we” I replace it with “me and x” wherein in each instance thereafter of the word “we” it is to refer to the pre stated group until I note otherwise where then I will state the new secondary individual or individuals noted by “we”. If it were up to me, I would add a set of personal pronouns that notate whether the addressee is included or excluded from “we”. Mostly just so I don’t have to deter from the main topic to specify who I am talking about, a way to more quickly get my point across.

This brings me to another ambiguity issue I have with the word “we”. This issue is not really an issue that results in misunderstandings but rather simply something that bothers me when I speak. When one says “we” it includes oneself and another individual or individuals. This distinction on whether the other party is comprised of one person or multiple people is not necessarily a big deal but other languages have distinctions on the number and even gender of the members of “we”. I figure that since English is one of the most expressive languages on the planet why should its grammatical structure not have ways to notate minor things such as this? Once again, I’d like for there to be a word that expresses number in the first person plural of “we (two)” and for “we (more than two)” so I can use fewer words to specify so I can get to the point faster.

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Re: Words you think English should have or bring back.

Postby Velifer » Tue May 10, 2011 1:59 pm UTC

shniz wrote:I figure that since English is one of the most expressive languages on the planet why should its grammatical structure not have ways to notate minor things such as this?

Because we have things like prosody, haptics, other non-verbals and antecedents to take care of most of this, along with the ability to clarify.

Also, wouldn't a minor thing such as this need some fairly natural easy to implement and intuitive way to change before it would be accepted? Perhaps you could write a multi-volume book series, spinoff blockbuster trilogy, children's toy line and fast-food tie in story that goes internet-meme wild with a character that uses some distinct "we" forms, to give that little bump to change.

...or, convince some hipsters that it's ironic.
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Re: Words you think English should have or bring back.

Postby goofy » Thu May 12, 2011 12:36 am UTC

shniz wrote:English is one of the most expressive languages on the planet


citation needed

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Re: Words you think English should have or bring back.

Postby gmalivuk » Thu May 12, 2011 4:48 am UTC

Well it's true, it's just that it's also tied with most of the other ones for that distinction.
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Re: Words you think English should have or bring back.

Postby bigglesworth » Thu May 12, 2011 8:43 am UTC

I believe it does have the largest vocabulary currently though?
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Re: Words you think English should have or bring back.

Postby Iulus Cofield » Thu May 12, 2011 9:15 am UTC

That's often repeated and the answer is maybe not? Figuring out the total vocabulary of a language is a little easier than figuring out the average daily vocabulary size of the average native speaker, but it's still probably unworkable to any satisfactory degree. Even the unabridged OED, which IIRC has over a million entries, counts obscure and obsolete words and doesn't include most compound words. My morphology textbook cites "high voltage electricity grid systems supervisor" as a single word, but there's a lot of good reasons to consider as one and not a lot to count it as six different words.

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Re: Words you think English should have or bring back.

Postby bigglesworth » Thu May 12, 2011 10:19 am UTC

Ah well, at least I've been misled down a path followed by those more educated than I on these matters.
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Re: Words you think English should have or bring back.

Postby goofy » Thu May 12, 2011 3:42 pm UTC

And even if it does have the largest vocabulary of any language, that doesn't necessarily mean it's more expressive than other languages.

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Re: Words you think English should have or bring back.

Postby TheMaskedGecko » Thu May 19, 2011 11:02 am UTC

(bear with me, I'm ebbling a bit here)
For a language in which 90%[citation needed] of conversations are two line affairs about the weather, English has very few concise words for different types. We have
-'lovely weather' for 0%-40% cloud coverage
-'terrible weather' for heavy rain-storm
leaving 'over-cast' as a much over used term for anything from 40% cloud coverage-light rain
Therefore I suggest the wonderfully emotive Welsh word 'ddiflas' (soft 'dd' ,like a chainsaw with a silencer) for 90-100% cloud cover and light to medium rain. It's a synonym for depressing but only in reference to rain.
And before anyone suggests using depressing instead, I ask you to make small talk in which the word depressing doesn't lead to questions regarding your mental health.

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Re: Words you think English should have or bring back.

Postby gmalivuk » Thu May 19, 2011 11:57 am UTC

Why not "dreary"?
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Re: Words you think English should have or bring back.

Postby Velifer » Thu May 19, 2011 1:53 pm UTC

TheMaskedGecko wrote:For a language in which 90%[citation needed] of conversations are two line affairs about the weather, English has very few concise words for different types.

Oh, there are very concise ways to discuss weather, with some specificity. See here for some terms and definitions. That's even without resorting to the Beaufort Scale or other international descriptors.

TV weather forecasters talk about the current weather as if it's news. (look. out. a. window.)
Sailors talk about the weather in terms that are accurate, yet poetic and prophetic.
Farmers talk about the weather with invective and profanity and expense.
...but yeah, none of those conversations will be short.
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Re: Words you think English should have or bring back.

Postby Aiwendil » Thu May 19, 2011 7:16 pm UTC

We have plenty of concise ways of describing the weather. Just to refer to cloud cover/overall precipitation conditions, I might use any of the terms: sunny, bright, fair, cloudy, partly cloudy, grey, overcast, dreary, drizzly, bleak, foggy, misty, rainy, stormy. And that's just what I can think of off the top of my head, and restricting myself to adjectives.

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Re: Words you think English should have or bring back.

Postby Eebster the Great » Thu May 19, 2011 9:47 pm UTC

The more concisely you can describe the weather, the less material you have for small talk.

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Re: Words you think English should have or bring back.

Postby TheMaskedGecko » Fri May 20, 2011 12:36 pm UTC

I think what this has shown is my lack of imagination. Thanks for dreary though.
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Re: Words you think English should have or bring back.

Postby klausok » Wed Jun 15, 2011 7:37 pm UTC

There are a few words that I, a native speaker of Danish, miss when speaking English.

The most basic are the infinitives of the modal verbs. While "at rejse er at leve" translates easily (to travel is to live), "at ville er at kunne" is more or less impossilble. "To be willing is to be able" sounds clunky to me.

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Re: Words you think English should have or bring back.

Postby firechicago » Wed Jun 15, 2011 8:07 pm UTC

klausok wrote:The most basic are the infinitives of the modal verbs. While "at rejse er at leve" translates easily (to travel is to live), "at ville er at kunne" is more or less impossilble. "To be willing is to be able" sounds clunky to me.


I may be missing some of the subtleties of the Danish phrase, but I think that the equivalent English saying would be "where there's a will, there's a way."

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Re: Words you think English should have or bring back.

Postby goofy » Wed Jun 15, 2011 11:56 pm UTC

klausok wrote:The most basic are the infinitives of the modal verbs. While "at rejse er at leve" translates easily (to travel is to live), "at ville er at kunne" is more or less impossilble. "To be willing is to be able" sounds clunky to me.


Clunky, but not impossible.

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Re: Words you think English should have or bring back.

Postby Gigano » Thu Jun 16, 2011 9:39 am UTC

al-iksir wrote:I am missing a word for "say nothing" or "keep silent". Basically a verb to "tacit", like tacere in Italian/Latin.

Examples:
Where have you been, she asked.
He did not reply / did not say anything / fell silent / ?
What have you done, she asked.
He kept/continued saying nothing / ?

Si tacuisses, philosophus mansisses.
If you had been silent, you would have remained a philosopher.
If you had remained silent, ...
If you had kept quiet, ...

Is there a more elegant way to translate this Latin saying?


I am Dutch and we do have a single word for it: zwijgen. I used it to plunder some dictionaries to find a decent translation. The best single word translation that I can come up with is hush. As in: "They hushed as the doctor entered the room." Another word that is used in British dialects is whist. Neither seem to provide a satisfactory translation though.
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Re: Words you think English should have or bring back.

Postby Eebster the Great » Thu Jun 16, 2011 9:49 am UTC

Gigano wrote:I am Dutch and we do have a single word for it: zwijgen. I used it to plunder some dictionaries to find a decent translation. The best single word translation that I can come up with is hush. As in: "They hushed as the doctor entered the room." Another word that is used in British dialects is whist. Neither seem to provide a satisfactory translation though.

Is 'zwijgen' transitive? Because 'tacere' is strictly intransitive ('hush' can be either transitive or intransitive, with slightly different meanings).

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Re: Words you think English should have or bring back.

Postby Monika » Thu Jun 16, 2011 1:02 pm UTC

If zwijgen is like German schweigen, it's intransitive.
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Re: Words you think English should have or bring back.

Postby Microscopic cog » Thu Jun 16, 2011 1:45 pm UTC

Yeah, it's intransitive. *also dutch*
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