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 somitomi » Sun Mar 26, 2017 1:03 pm UTC

Quick question to US railfans (Hold on a second, I don't think you've thought this through. What on Earth would railfans be doing in the linguistics subforum?): What does the term "road name" refer to? I'm translating a short article on how locomotives are painted, and there's this sentence:
Model Railroader wrote:Masking tape is applied for all the striping, while adhesive stencils maye be used for the road name and unit number.

I'm guessing it's the name of the railroad company owning the locomotive, but I couldn't verify it. (Congratulations, you just answered your own question. What was the point of all this again?)
Thanks in advance (for tolerating the pointlessness of this post...)
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Mega85 » Thu Mar 30, 2017 1:21 am UTC

Speaking of rail, would you say "railroad crossing", "level crossing", "grade crossing" or something else?

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Derek » Thu Mar 30, 2017 9:35 am UTC

"Railroad crossing".

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby HES » Thu Mar 30, 2017 12:52 pm UTC

In the UK, mostly "level crossing", though occasionally "railway crossing".
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby somitomi » Sat Apr 01, 2017 4:35 pm UTC

Mega85 wrote:Speaking of rail, would you say "railroad crossing", "level crossing", "grade crossing" or something else?

"vasúti átjáró" :P
On a more serious note, I learned a while back that it's called "útátjáró" (~"road crossing") in railroad jargon. It does make sense, but it didn't occur to me before that railroad worker's wouldn't call it a railroad crossing. I wonder if the same happens in English though, since not all of the phrases contain any reference to rails (like "level crossing").
I'd probably use "railroad crossing" in English by the way.
For a while I thought this phrase came from rail-road crossing (i.e. a crossing of rail and road)
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Soupspoon » Sat Apr 01, 2017 5:02 pm UTC

somitomi wrote:On a more serious note, I learned a while back that it's called "útátjáró" (~"road crossing") in railroad jargon. It does make sense, but it didn't occur to me before that railroad worker's wouldn't call it a railroad crossing.

Related, if not quite the same, there's a canal bridge I know that is called "FOO Lane Bridge", as a British Waterways/whatever towpath identification, which is in sharp contrast with the road that goes over it being called "FOO Bridge Lane". Any historic bridge-naming as merely "FOO Bridge", from which the lane got its name, seems to have been lost in the meantime, while "FOO Bridge Lane Bridge" would be an awkward new name, of course. ;)


But, back on subject, it makes sense that the above observation is true as (also) all bridges over a railway/over which a railway travels are "railway bridges", from a rail-perspective they'd be better referred to as a road-bridge, a foot-bridge, a pipe-bridge, even (rarely, but not entirely unknown) a canal bridge. And of course there are rail-over-rail ones. They also all (both under and over bridges, whatever your reference might be) have big signs saying "This is the High Street Walmington Bridge, number 12345, please call 0123 456789 if there is any incident involving its structure", or words to that effect. I'm actually overlooking a station, right now, but until I finish my (very) late lunch, from this halfway comfortable stone bench, I'm not in a position to examine any of the nearby bridges for the exact format.

(ETA: ...OK, this one is actually a Tunnel (with a road along its top lip, so 'bridgy' on that side), and named as such "This is bridge (code) // (road-number road-name) Tunnel // (cityname) // In the event of any road vehicles striking this bridge [sic ;)] please phone // The Railway Authority on // (local phone number) // as quickly as possible. The safety of trains may be affected." Not sticking to the allcaps where allcaps is evident, nor bothering about font size or boldness, of course. Anyway, they don't seem to care what kind of bridge(/tunnel) it is, so long as they get told if anybody bashes it about...)

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby mathmannix » Wed Apr 05, 2017 6:25 pm UTC

ThirdParty wrote:
Eebster the Great wrote:/skj/ is a pretty complicated consonant cluster. There are no perfect comparisons to lend one particular pronunciation more weight ("Cuba" is a Spanish proper noun, "CUNY" is an acronym and not widely known, neither starts with an s, and "skew" is spelled with a different vowel).
I wouldn't expect native English speakers to have trouble producing that cluster. In addition to "skew", there's words like "rescue", words like "excuse", and words like "miniscule". I've never heard anyone drop the yod in those.


I can't stop saying these words now. I think when I say rescued and skewed without thinking about the pronunciation, it's definitely not as pronounced as "key-ood", like it's two syllables, but it doesn't really sound the same as other words I tried... somewhat like "good", somewhat like "basket", and somewhat like "skid or skied" (the past tense of "to ski")*. Actually, it might be closest to how my mind thinks a Frenchman would say "food" or "good" to rhyme with each other, in a Clouseau-esque manner. Is this a vowel sound?

* I just realized I wasn't certain how to spell the past tense of ski. Google implies "skied", but that looks like it rhymes with "fried"; I know I've seen skid, but that's a different word too (skidding), and even the obviously wrong "skiid" gets results on google, so lots of people have this problem.
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Soupspoon » Wed Apr 05, 2017 8:24 pm UTC

"Skied" is correct but typically confusing. See also "skiing". (Earlier today I went off on a totally unnecessary search for various strange double(-but-separate)-vowel words. Coincidentally.)

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Eebster the Great » Thu Apr 06, 2017 8:10 am UTC

Ah yes, the famous aardvark skiing in a vacuum.

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Soupspoon » Thu Apr 06, 2017 12:20 pm UTC

Eebster the Great wrote:Ah yes, the famous aardvark skiing in a vacuum.

Noone [siic] would cooperate with that kind of preemptive zoology...

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Was the word "sweetheart" originally "sweetard"?

Postby Mega85 » Wed Apr 12, 2017 10:47 pm UTC

Was the word "sweetheart" originally "sweetard"? Or is that a myth?

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Re: Was the word "sweetheart" originally "sweetard"?

Postby gmalivuk » Wed Apr 12, 2017 11:05 pm UTC

Mega85 wrote:Was the word "sweetheart" originally "sweetard"?

No.

Or is that a myth?
Is it? I've never heard it suggested before.
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Soupspoon » Wed Apr 12, 2017 11:17 pm UTC

I've previously heard of that theory, somewhere I forget, and Wiktionary gives it credence (and root), for what that's worth.

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Apr 13, 2017 12:22 am UTC

The Google Books corpus has "sweetheart" long before "sweetard", so I've fixed Wiktionary to reflect this.
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Derek » Thu Apr 13, 2017 1:00 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:The Google Books corpus has "sweetheart" long before "sweetard", so I've fixed Wiktionary to reflect this.

And I was just about to ask ask where Wiktionary gave that theory credence.

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Soupspoon » Thu Apr 13, 2017 1:17 am UTC

Well, gmalivuk's removal effectively reverts something added in last December, and that sounds suspiciously close to the half-memory of when I personally heard of this. Trying unsuccessfully to narrow it down (QI? Quote Unquote? No Such Thing As A Fish? Word Of Mouth? ....something like that, and/or from the likes of a person like Susie Dent or Lynne Truss?) but if I'm not wrong about the timing then I'm guessing that author had the same influence as me (presumably sufficiently researched before it got to us), but then did something about it.

An attempt at citation would have been useful, for them to have done, to at least set my own mind at rest.

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby eSOANEM » Thu Apr 13, 2017 11:06 am UTC

It's possible that sweetard arose independently and later merged into the already existing sweetheart?

The fact the -ard suffix was originally -hard also means that orthographical confusion could obscure the etymology somewhat.

I'd still think the sweetheart etymology much more plausible. -ard words are almost always pejorative (for a person who is associated with the affixed thing to a fault) and so the expected meaning would be something along the lines of a sycophant or someone who is fawning whereas sweet-heart arrives at its current meaning a lot more naturally.
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Re: Was the word "sweetheart" originally "sweetard"?

Postby Mega85 » Thu Apr 13, 2017 8:31 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
Or is that a myth?
Is it? I've never heard it suggested before.



Yep, it's a common belief.

https://www.google.com/#q=%22sweetard%2 ... etheart%22

There are books that will tell you that "sweetheart" comes from a reanalysis of "sweetard".

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby eSOANEM » Thu Apr 13, 2017 10:30 pm UTC

Also, sweetard is entirely absent from google n-grams until 1870 or so and peaks about 1880 before disappearing almost completely in 1910 with occasional reoccurances since. Also, for the entire period, sweetheart vastly outnumbers sweetard [linky].

Basically, it looks like just another instance of the Victorians making up history as they thought it should be.

Edit: to clarify, this is mostly just adding some more quantitativity to gmal's comment which ultimately said pretty much all of this
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Apr 13, 2017 11:39 pm UTC

Yeah, I'd looked at ngrams but I didn't link to it for some reason.

The oldest result for "sweetard" is a book claiming it was the origin of "sweetheart", meaning the myth is apparently just as old as the allegedly original word itself.
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby ThirdParty » Fri Apr 14, 2017 3:17 am UTC

I tried a bunch of other variants on Google Ngrams. "Sweetart" is nearly as popular as "Sweetard", and preceded it slightly: link.

("sweet'art" is also present and slightly before "sweetart", but I can't seem to make the URL work for showing it)

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby gmalivuk » Fri Apr 14, 2017 4:26 am UTC

Which suggests that the others may come from "sweet'art", which is itself probably just a way to spell the h-dropped pronunciation of "sweetheart".
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby eSOANEM » Fri Apr 14, 2017 1:02 pm UTC

Ah yeah, I just accidentally entered the wrong one. I agree with gmal on the conclusion
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Mega85 » Tue Apr 18, 2017 12:34 am UTC

Would you use 1900s to refer to the period from 1900 to 1999? While 1800s for me, refers to the period from 1800 to 1899, 1900s for me refers to the decade from 1900 to 1909, not the whole century.

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Soupspoon » Tue Apr 18, 2017 1:02 am UTC

There is an ambiguity in the use that needs further derivation from the surrounding words.

"The 1900s then led to the 1910s, only half of which were considered as peaceful".

Or, to play with the next 'big number'...
"Britain greatly increased its use of the Internet in the 2000s above the level it had in the 1990s."
"Britain in the 2000s will now no longer define its populations at all by the immutability of social classes still seen affecting the 1900s."
"For the 2000s, we foresee the spread of the British culture that had been continually developed all through all of the 1000s, since the Norman invasion."

Where it gets tricky is where (probably you), like me, are a child of a deep-enough decade back into the 20th century for you to be used to talking/hearing of things that just a generation or three back knew as their 'noughties' (but not by that name, of course). That said, I never really recall much even of "the '10s" (only half of which were peaceful) and the '20s are the first decade's-worth of years where it doesn't even get spelt out in full, one way or another. And we're now not far off the "next '20s".

Which reminds me, is "the first decade of the 20th century" 1901 to 1910, rather than 1900 to 1909? ;)

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Demki » Fri Apr 21, 2017 6:12 pm UTC

I'd say yes because we don't have a year zero, thus years 1-10 form a decade

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby poxic » Sun Apr 23, 2017 4:43 am UTC

Except it sounds weird to say that 1990 was the '80s (for example). People logic doesn't always follow math logic.
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Eebster the Great » Sun Apr 23, 2017 6:21 am UTC

poxic wrote:Except it sounds weird to say that 1990 was the '80s (for example). People logic doesn't always follow math logic.

It wasn't in the 1980s, but it was in the 199th decade, just like 1981-1989. Similarly, the year 1900 was in the 1900s even though it was still in the 19th century.

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Copper Bezel » Mon Apr 24, 2017 1:05 pm UTC

This will never be unambiguous until we add a year zero and reshuffle everything. I no longer care that it's wrong, it'd just be consistent and unambiguous. Like banning the sense of "infer" that doesn't mean "imply". I'd cringe but know what people meant.
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby gmalivuk » Mon Apr 24, 2017 2:22 pm UTC

Eebster the Great wrote:
poxic wrote:Except it sounds weird to say that 1990 was the '80s (for example). People logic doesn't always follow math logic.

It wasn't in the 1980s, but it was in the 199th decade, just like 1981-1989. Similarly, the year 1900 was in the 1900s even though it was still in the 19th century.

Yeah, people logic may not always correspond with math logic, but in this case there's no contradiction, because "the 1990s" and "the 200th decade" don't completely overlap.
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Soupspoon » Mon Apr 24, 2017 2:31 pm UTC

Copper Bezel wrote:Like banning the sense of "infer" that doesn't mean "imply". I'd cringe but know what people meant.
I refute that idea. Should we decimate the language, irregardless, as our pregenitors should of proscribed? Like, literally like putting the car before the horse. Sounds like a damp squid, and a mute point, so I'm adverse to it and include me out.

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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby poxic » Mon Apr 24, 2017 2:39 pm UTC

Soupspoon wrote:I refute that idea. Should we decimate the language, irregardless, as our pregenitors should of proscribed? Like, literally like putting the car before the horse. Sounds like a damp squid, and a mute point, so I'm adverse to it and include me out.

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edit after some thought: I have a better idea on what to do with that.
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby gmalivuk » Mon Apr 24, 2017 2:59 pm UTC

Soupspoon wrote:Sounds like a damp squid
What was this one supposed to be?
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Thesh » Mon Apr 24, 2017 3:07 pm UTC

Damp squib.
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby poxic » Mon Apr 24, 2017 3:10 pm UTC

According to wiki, it's a small explosive:

While most modern squibs used by professionals are insulated from moisture, older uninsulated squibs needed to be kept dry in order to ignite, thus a "damp squib" was literally one that failed to perform because it got wet. Often misheard as "damp squid", the phrase "damp squib" has since come into general use to mean anything that fails to meet expectations. The word "squib" has come to take on a similar meaning even when used alone, as a diminutive comparison to a full explosive.

(I think I was faintly aware of the failed-explosive meaning but not to where I could have described it coherently.)
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby gmalivuk » Mon Apr 24, 2017 3:16 pm UTC

Ah, I know what a squib is and get what "damp squib" must mean, but I guess I don't hear that one frequently enough to have made the connection.
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Copper Bezel » Mon Apr 24, 2017 7:39 pm UTC

poxic wrote:
Soupspoon wrote:I refute that idea. Should we decimate the language, irregardless, as our pregenitors should of proscribed? Like, literally like putting the car before the horse. Sounds like a damp squid, and a mute point, so I'm adverse to it and include me out.

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edit after some thought: I have a better idea on what to do with that.

If you hadn't, I would have. That was glorious, Soupspoon. Know that you just now nearly beat yourself out of my signature. XD
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby eSOANEM » Mon Apr 24, 2017 8:12 pm UTC

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)
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby gmalivuk » Mon Apr 24, 2017 8:21 pm UTC

The Corpus of Global Web-Based English says "damp squib" about 10x more common in Great Britain than in the US or Canada.

And again, I know what a "squib" is, and that was sufficient to understand the Harry Potter thing. As the Wikipedia article points out, "The word "squib" has come to take on a similar meaning even when used alone, as a diminutive comparison to a full explosive."
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Re: Miscellaneous language questions

Postby Eebster the Great » Mon Apr 24, 2017 10:34 pm UTC

I've never heard the phrase or the word before.


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