1709: "Inflection"

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1709: "Inflection"

Postby ps.02 » Wed Jul 20, 2016 1:10 pm UTC

Image

Alt-text: "Or maybe, because we're suddenly having so many conversations through written text, we'll start relying MORE on altered spelling to indicate meaning!" "Wat."

Man, I hope not. I simply cannot get on board with emojies. I use a chat platform at work that converts emoticons and emojies to text, like :slightly_smiling_face:. While I'm very happy to not see the pictorial versions, the text versions get pretty tiresome as well. I suppose I should just hack my client to filter them out entirely.

Also I don't think I like how splain-girl thinks "English has lost most of its inflections" is an explanation for "why we don't have all those Latin conjugations". Seems to me it's a pretty unsatisfying answer to the "why" question. "It doesn't have them because it lost them." (Not to mention the implication that the inflections were lost during an evolution of Latin into English, which is wrong in a couple of ways.)

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Re: 1709: "Inflection"

Postby orthogon » Wed Jul 20, 2016 2:14 pm UTC

I think it's just slightly careless speech, and what she means is "we don't have long conjugations like Latin has". In fact it's the mandatory use of subject pronouns that makes inflexion for person unnecessary. What's left is the -s for third person singular (which, for some reason, native Chinese speakers seen to find especially difficult).

Of course we have inflexion for past tense and for forming present and past participles. The regular endings could be represented by some kind of emoji, but we'd have to dispense with all those old irregular verbs.
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Re: 1709: "Inflection"

Postby ShadeTail » Wed Jul 20, 2016 2:31 pm UTC

Uh, Randall, the primary reason we don't have all those Latin inflections is that English is not a Romance language. We've absorbed a lot of Latin vocabulary over the centuries, but at its base, English is a Germanic language.

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Re: 1709: "Inflection"

Postby PinkShinyRose » Wed Jul 20, 2016 2:35 pm UTC

If I had to pick a main reason to go with ideograms for English, it would be the present lack of correlation between spelling and pronunciation. To me, such a correlation would be the only reason to use an alphabet (should you still call it that if the orthography is mostly non-phonetic?). While we're at it anyway, let's go with CJK-characters for unicode compatibility. We could use classical Chinese meanings with English word-order to avoid reasonable allegations of bias towards any other modern language.
orthogon wrote:we'd have to dispense with all those old irregular verbs.

Sounds good to me for any language.
ShadeTail wrote:Uh, Randall, the primary reason we don't have all those Latin inflections is that English is not a Romance language. We've absorbed a lot of Latin vocabulary over the centuries, but at its base, English is a Germanic language.

To be fair, the genders and tenses are mostly the same.

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Re: 1709: "Inflection"

Postby jc » Wed Jul 20, 2016 4:20 pm UTC

It reminds me of a linguistics prof I knew in college (back in the 70s) who remarked that linguists were discussing the idea of ejecting English from the Indo-European family, and applying for its acceptance in the Sino-Tibetan family. The argument was that English had lost most of the defining characteristics of an Indo-European language, including the inflections and genders, and the remaining tidbits like the 3rd-person singular pronouns and verb endings are now special cases that aren't part of any general patterns. The Sino-Tibetan langauges lost such things in pre-history (if they ever had them), so English would fit right in with that company.

This was, of course really just a bit of linguistic geek humor, but he had a point. Nowadays you can find comments on the adoption of emojis in English, which has a remarkable similarity to what we know about the early development of Chinese (and Egyptian) writing. We could just skip ahead, and adopt the Chinese writing system. Probably not, though, for reasons similar to why the Chinese are facing the loss of most of their traditional characters among the younger generations. Also, while English does "borrow" words from other languages, the original meanings of those words are usually lost in the transition. We English speakers usually can't be bothered to actually learn anything from the rest of the world; we just take the surface appearance and discard anything deeper.

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Re: 1709: "Inflection"

Postby Steve the Pocket » Wed Jul 20, 2016 4:24 pm UTC

I wonder if there are any languages where instead of just singular and plural, there's a third form for two of something. It seems like a common trope for three or more to be treated as significant, so it's logical that that might carry over into language.
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Re: 1709: "Inflection"

Postby JudeMorrigan » Wed Jul 20, 2016 4:35 pm UTC

Steve the Pocket wrote:I wonder if there are any languages where instead of just singular and plural, there's a third form for two of something. It seems like a common trope for three or more to be treated as significant, so it's logical that that might carry over into language.

I know ancient Greek had three grammatical numbers - singular, plural and dual.

Info on the dual number:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dual_(grammatical_number)

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Re: 1709: "Inflection"

Postby HES » Wed Jul 20, 2016 4:43 pm UTC

Isn't there a tribal language somewhere where the numbers are one, two, many?
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Re: 1709: "Inflection"

Postby mathmannix » Wed Jul 20, 2016 4:47 pm UTC

Steve the Pocket wrote:I wonder if there are any languages where instead of just singular and plural, there's a third form for two of something. It seems like a common trope for three or more to be treated as significant, so it's logical that that might carry over into language.


Yes, Arabic has this. (Possibly all Semitic languages, but I have only studied Arabic.)
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Re: 1709: "Inflection"

Postby Flumble » Wed Jul 20, 2016 6:20 pm UTC

Steve the Pocket wrote:I wonder if there are any languages where instead of just singular and plural, there's a third form for two of something. It seems like a common trope for three or more to be treated as significant, so it's logical that that might carry over into language.

Apart from the dual, there are even more grammatical numbers: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grammatical_number#Types_of_number.

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Re: 1709: "Inflection"

Postby Copper Bezel » Wed Jul 20, 2016 6:41 pm UTC

PinkShinyRose wrote:If I had to pick a main reason to go with ideograms for English, it would be the present lack of correlation between spelling and pronunciation. To me, such a correlation would be the only reason to use an alphabet (should you still call it that if the orthography is mostly non-phonetic?).

It's not mostly non-phonetic. There are just a wide variety of contradictory phonetic systems that follow loose associations instead of top-down rules. The end point of the switch from an oral to a written culture is that the symbol or symbols on the page representing the morpheme becomes the unit of meaning, to which the sound value or value are also attached. Written English is far richer in meaning than spoken precisely because spelling is irregular, preserving layers of flavor and etymology not present in the sounds that represent those words in speech.

Fuck phonetics.
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Re: 1709: "Inflection"

Postby Mikeski » Wed Jul 20, 2016 11:46 pm UTC

This also works in reverse... if you borrow someone else's pictographic writing, and you do have a lot of -s's and -ed's*, you'll have to invent an alphabet** to glue onto your list of pictographs.

* - in this case, -tai's and -wareru's and -suru's and ...
** - or a syllabary. or two.

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Re: 1709: "Inflection"

Postby Locoluis » Thu Jul 21, 2016 2:01 am UTC

HES wrote:Isn't there a tribal language somewhere where the numbers are one, two, many?


Is “one, two, many” a myth?

Relevant XKCD

PinkShinyRose wrote:If I had to pick a main reason to go with ideograms for English, it would be the present lack of correlation between spelling and pronunciation. To me, such a correlation would be the only reason to use an alphabet (should you still call it that if the orthography is mostly non-phonetic?). While we're at it anyway, let's go with CJK-characters for unicode compatibility. We could use classical Chinese meanings with English word-order to avoid reasonable allegations of bias towards any other modern language.


The what if of writ-ing Engl-ish like Chin-ese has been muse-d on in the past.

Of course it is tempt-ing to think of Engl-ish in such a way as to break down all word-s down to their small-est part-s, but it would quick-ly get tir-ing, and this task makes it quite plain how much the prose would lose its in-nate lithe-ness.
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Re: 1709: "Inflection"

Postby RogueCynic » Thu Jul 21, 2016 3:42 am UTC

I wonder how Dr Dan Streetmentioner’s Time Traveller’s Handbook of 1001 Tense Formations would fit in this thread. My brain is butter right now, someone else can work it in.
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Re: 1709: "Inflection"

Postby djagir » Thu Jul 21, 2016 6:26 am UTC

I cannot express how irritating I find the term "wat" to be.

My go-to response to it has become "Angkor." It's obscure, but at least it's equally irritating.

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Re: 1709: "Inflection"

Postby Soupspoon » Thu Jul 21, 2016 7:25 am UTC

djagir wrote:I cannot express how irritating I find the term "wat" to be.
I agree. The BrE term is "wot"...


My go-to response to it has become "Angkor." It's obscure, but at least it's equally irritating.
It's only obscure to the kind of people who think Machu Picchu is a Pokémon. And so excluding those people from discussions leaves me with a better class of person to loudly and firmly discuss things with. And/or Pokémon afficionados, who I can mostly just take or leave but I'll happily use the accented é to keep them sweet if they're looking like they're in the former classification as well as the latter...

;) ;)

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Re: 1709: "Inflection"

Postby wayne » Thu Jul 21, 2016 8:11 am UTC

...while English does "borrow" words from other languages...


Borrow?
Actually, someone (I forget who) put it well when he said that English doesn't so much "borrow" from other languages as it follows them down dark alleys, knocks them over the head, and rifles through their pockets for loose grammar.

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Re: 1709: "Inflection"

Postby Copper Bezel » Thu Jul 21, 2016 9:06 am UTC

Soupspoon wrote:And/or Pokémon afficionados, who I can mostly just take or leave but I'll happily use the accented é to keep them sweet if they're looking like they're in the former classification as well as the latter...

;) ;)

I'm in the US, where it's never the default, but switch to whatever international keyboard layout is available on all my various gadgets because I feel a deep-seated need to have my AltGr key that I almost never use. The ubiquity of discussions about Pokémon GO (which I don't play, or really talk to anyone who is playing, etc.) has given me opportunity to use it daily, leaving me with a mix of vindication and gratitude.
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Re: 1709: "Inflection"

Postby JudeMorrigan » Thu Jul 21, 2016 4:11 pm UTC

wayne wrote:
...while English does "borrow" words from other languages...


Borrow?
Actually, someone (I forget who) put it well when he said that English doesn't so much "borrow" from other languages as it follows them down dark alleys, knocks them over the head, and rifles through their pockets for loose grammar.

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Re: 1709: "Inflection"

Postby Brian-M » Thu Jul 21, 2016 5:07 pm UTC

One problem I have with emojis is that they're a lot more difficult to interpret than plain-text, and a lot more vague.

For example, in the last panel we have:

*thumbs-up*
*clap* (or maybe it's swatting a fly?)
*smile* (Or perhaps *blush*, or a blush/smile combo?)

In this context, it should probably be interpreted to mean: "Yep. Congratulations, I'm pleased."
But in a different context it could be interpreted to mean: "Okay. Slow-clap. Just kidding."

Either way, it takes far longer to figure-out what the message is trying to say than by plain-text, and there's less certainty that you've interpreted the meaning correctly, and far more difficult to understand.

In this case, simply having her say "Absolutely!" would be a far better method of communicating than using the emojis.

(But then, that would defeat the entire punchline of the comic.)

On the other hand, I'm okay with using emojis and smilies to supplement the message, to add an emotional tone to the words or an interesting graphic accompaniment. It's just using them to convey the message itself that I have a problem with.


(Yes, this was a pointless rant on my part. But it's three in the morning here and I'm too tired to care. Time to go to bed.)

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Re: 1709: "Inflection"

Postby Mikeski » Thu Jul 21, 2016 6:49 pm UTC

Copper Bezel wrote:
Soupspoon wrote:And/or Pokémon afficionados, who I can mostly just take or leave but I'll happily use the accented é to keep them sweet if they're looking like they're in the former classification as well as the latter...

;) ;)

I'm in the US, where it's never the default, but switch to whatever international keyboard layout is available on all my various gadgets because I feel a deep-seated need to have my AltGr key that I almost never use. The ubiquity of discussions about Pokémon GO (which I don't play, or really talk to anyone who is playing, etc.) has given me opportunity to use it daily, leaving me with a mix of vindication and gratitude.


It's funny that you get to use it for this, given the etymology of the word. It's a Japanese abbreviation of the English phrase "Pocket Monsters". (Making four-mora words out of longer phrases is one of their national passtimes.)

So, we have a non-English/non-Japanese character being used, so that native English speakers know how to pronounce an abbreviation that's gone from English-to-Japanese-to-English. And most people still say it wrong, even with the "help", since it should be poe-keh-mawn, not POE-key-mawn.

(Still closer than making CARE-ee-owe-key out of kah-rah~owe-keh. Which is also a four-mora-ism; for "kara (empty) orchestra.")

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Re: 1709: "Inflection"

Postby Soupspoon » Thu Jul 21, 2016 7:13 pm UTC

Mikeski wrote:So, we have a non-English/non-Japanese character being used, so that native English speakers know how to pronounce an abbreviation that's gone from English-to-Japanese-to-English. And most people still say it wrong, even with the "help", since it should be poe-keh-mawn, not POE-key-mawn.

(Still closer than making CARE-ee-owe-key out of kah-rah~owe-keh. Which is also a four-mora-ism; for "kara (empty) orchestra.")
I say "poe-kuh-mon" (as in "poker", the card game or fireside implement).

I've never heard Karaoke start "care" ("kara" does not lend itself to that), although it's probably more like "kah-ri oh-ki'" round these parts (and "kara" doesn't suggest "carry".either).

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Re: 1709: "Inflection"

Postby mathmannix » Thu Jul 21, 2016 8:39 pm UTC

Soupspoon wrote:
Mikeski wrote:So, we have a non-English/non-Japanese character being used, so that native English speakers know how to pronounce an abbreviation that's gone from English-to-Japanese-to-English. And most people still say it wrong, even with the "help", since it should be poe-keh-mawn, not POE-key-mawn.

(Still closer than making CARE-ee-owe-key out of kah-rah~owe-keh. Which is also a four-mora-ism; for "kara (empty) orchestra.")
I say "poe-kuh-mon" (as in "poker", the card game or fireside implement).

I've never heard Karaoke start "care" ("kara" does not lend itself to that), although it's probably more like "kah-ri oh-ki'" round these parts (and "kara" doesn't suggest "carry".either).


I've done it many times, and in many different places in the U.S., having lived across the country from the Midwest to California to the East Coast, and I've never heard it pronounced any way except "Carry Okie".
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Re: 1709: "Inflection"

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Jul 21, 2016 9:24 pm UTC

ShadeTail wrote:Uh, Randall, the primary reason we don't have all those Latin inflections is that English is not a Romance language. We've absorbed a lot of Latin vocabulary over the centuries, but at its base, English is a Germanic language.

I read "all those Latin conjugations" as meaning "all those conjugations like Latin (for example) has".

jc wrote:Also, while English does "borrow" words from other languages, the original meanings of those words are usually lost in the transition. We English speakers usually can't be bothered to actually learn anything from the rest of the world; we just take the surface appearance and discard anything deeper.
Like all languages that borrow words from other languages (which is to say, like all languages), English often borrows a word that's general in another language to mean something specific in English, because we already have the general word (or, I think less commonly, borrows a specific word from another language that gets a general meaning here, because the specific term already exists or isn't needed in English).

English has "sauce" as the general term so borrows Spanish salsa for Mexican-style hot sauces, even though it's the general term in Spanish. Spanish, in turn, borrowed Nahuatl mole for indigenous Mexican sauces, even though mōlli is the general term in Nahuatl. English then borrowed "mole" to mean specifically mole poblano.
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Re: 1709: "Inflection"

Postby Copper Bezel » Thu Jul 21, 2016 10:22 pm UTC

Mikeski wrote:So, we have a non-English/non-Japanese character being used, so that native English speakers know how to pronounce an abbreviation that's gone from English-to-Japanese-to-English. And most people still say it wrong, even with the "help", since it should be poe-keh-mawn, not POE-key-mawn.

It is a lovely little cycle. = ] It actually looks weird to me with the accent as someone vaguely familiar with Japanese media, but I figure that's how the brand is styled in the US, so I go with it. = )

I'm not sure if é is truly a non-English character, though, since it is inorganically added in English to these kinds of borrowings to address an ambiguity that doesn't usually exist in the source language.

(Still closer than making CARE-ee-owe-key out of kah-rah~owe-keh. Which is also a four-mora-ism; for "kara (empty) orchestra.")

While I do say "pokaymon" or "poke-a-mon" depending on the day, I'm with mathmannix on this one; I've only ever heard the Carrie Okie pronunciation, too, and although I'm not really into karaoke, I'm actually surprised to fully recognize that it's spelled that way.
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Re: 1709: "Inflection"

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu Jul 21, 2016 10:40 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:English has "sauce" as the general term so borrows Spanish salsa for Mexican-style hot sauces, even though it's the general term in Spanish.

This is something I've always wondered about. Do native Spanish speakers use "salsa" to mean sauces other than Mexican-style ones? Are ketchup, mustard, ranch, barbecue, etc, "salsas" in Mexico?
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Re: 1709: "Inflection"

Postby gmalivuk » Fri Jul 22, 2016 1:20 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:Do native Spanish speakers use "salsa" to mean sauces other than Mexican-style ones?
Yes. Why wouldn't they?
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Re: 1709: "Inflection"

Postby Pfhorrest » Fri Jul 22, 2016 2:13 am UTC

Possibly for similar reasons to why we in English sometimes differentiate between sauces, dressings, and things like that; even though they're all in substantial ways in the same category of things, and some things (like ranch) can be called one or the other depending on the purpose that they're being used for, some things just don't get called one label or another. It's conceivable to me that Spanish speakers might call other kinds of sauces (besides the ones that we also call salsas) by another word for the same reason we wouldn't call ketchup a dressing.
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Re: 1709: "Inflection"

Postby gmalivuk » Fri Jul 22, 2016 2:47 am UTC

Well sure, "salsa" is probably not the only Spanish word for sauce-like substances, but it does predate by centuries the European discovery of such things as tomatoes and peppers, so it obviously must have previously referred to something other than what "salsa" refers to in English.
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Re: 1709: "Inflection"

Postby orthogon » Fri Jul 22, 2016 1:13 pm UTC

Copper Bezel wrote:
(Still closer than making CARE-ee-owe-key out of kah-rah~owe-keh. Which is also a four-mora-ism; for "kara (empty) orchestra.")

While I do say "pokaymon" or "poke-a-mon" depending on the day, I'm with mathmannix on this one; I've only ever heard the Carrie Okie pronunciation, too, and although I'm not really into karaoke, I'm actually surprised to fully recognize that it's spelled that way.

I guess the accent on Pokémon was necessary to avoid it turning into the two syllable "pohk-mon" suggested by the English word "poke". Apart from that it's a standard (modified) Hepburn romanisation of ポケモン. With karaoke you have the digraph -ao- which is very rare (less than 0.1% of words in my /usr/share/dict/words) and almost always occurs in foreign words; when it does occur it has a variety of pronunciation values (chaos, aorta, extraordinary). This exotic appearance was probably enough to avoid it being pronounced as a diphthong, say. All the same, both words contain sounds that aren't part of English phonology: the "ao", the final "e", and the syllabic "n". It's part of the borrowing process that the words are adapted to fit the host phonology, so we get "carrieokie". Another approach would have been to spell the words in a more phonetic way, but the Hepburn romaji have the benefit of "looking more Japanese" in some sense.
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Re: 1709: "Inflection"

Postby Copper Bezel » Fri Jul 22, 2016 10:28 pm UTC

Hepburn is great and I have no complaints with it. It's regular and easy to parse, and I like being able to look at a word, know whether it's a French, Spanish, Greek, or Japanese borrowing and pronounce accordingly, and the fact that the vowels are consistent across most borrowings into English and only really differ from the native English vocabulary that's gone through the Great Vowel Shift is great. If I encountered the word "karaoke" without having heard it, I would struggle over the "car ow kay" dipthong and eventually give up and pronounce the vowels separately, sort of a "Kara okay". But it seems to be a word with an established (if irreglular) English pronunciation.
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Re: 1709: "Inflection"

Postby Justin Lardinois » Fri Jul 22, 2016 11:50 pm UTC

Brian-M wrote:One problem I have with emojis is that they're a lot more difficult to interpret than plain-text, and a lot more vague.

For example, in the last panel we have:

*thumbs-up*
*clap* (or maybe it's swatting a fly?)
*smile* (Or perhaps *blush*, or a blush/smile combo?)

In this context, it should probably be interpreted to mean: "Yep. Congratulations, I'm pleased."
But in a different context it could be interpreted to mean: "Okay. Slow-clap. Just kidding."

Either way, it takes far longer to figure-out what the message is trying to say than by plain-text, and there's less certainty that you've interpreted the meaning correctly, and far more difficult to understand.

In this case, simply having her say "Absolutely!" would be a far better method of communicating than using the emojis.

(But then, that would defeat the entire punchline of the comic.)

On the other hand, I'm okay with using emojis and smilies to supplement the message, to add an emotional tone to the words or an interesting graphic accompaniment. It's just using them to convey the message itself that I have a problem with.


(Yes, this was a pointless rant on my part. But it's three in the morning here and I'm too tired to care. Time to go to bed.)



And that's the beauty of emojis: they add the ambiguities and emotions of gestures and body language into text, which is glaringly lacking of them. A real life thumbs up, clap, or smile is just as ambiguous and context-dependent as the emoji representation of it is.

I think the best thing about emoji though is that it's like a standardized version of emoticons, and it allows you to represent way more things than you can emoticons.

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somitomi
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Re: 1709: "Inflection"

Postby somitomi » Sat Jul 23, 2016 9:33 pm UTC

RogueCynic wrote:I wonder how Dr Dan Streetmentioner’s Time Traveller’s Handbook of 1001 Tense Formations would fit in this thread. My brain is butter right now, someone else can work it in.

I should have wanted to do it, but I will had travelled back in time from 2036 and were having stopped myself from posting it. I don't known, what will have happened if I won't have done that. (I do hope, that I've used the correct tense, I haven't gotten past the Future Semi-Conditionally Modified Subinverted Plagal Past Subjunctive Intentional).
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they/them/theirs = he/him/his ❖ If you want to use something else out of dadaist spite, I won't mind.
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