Language, please!

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  • briantrumpet
    briantrumpet Posts: 17,828
    rjsterry said:

    Laggard is nice.

    And you can have laggardly too.
  • Ghost-like is my guess.
  • TheBigBean
    TheBigBean Posts: 20,551

    I do enjoy trying out words on school pupils, individually, or in groups. I'm often intrigued by how limited their vocabulary can be, especially since I'm in contexts with lots of switched-on young people. I remember being amused, years ago, when asked about the meaning of the word 'melancholy' one pupil said "Is it a fruit" (he went on to read law at Oxford), and another said "Is it a vegetable?" I'm afraid I might have guffawed a bit at the second one, having heard the first one earlier in the day.

    Anyway, my latest one was 'ephemeral'. Out of a group of about 20, only one knew it, and she gave a dictionary definition, pretty much verbatim.

    So, as a straw poll, without cheating, how many of you know it, or don't? Honest answers on a postcard...

    I know vocabulary increases with age - like TBB above, one hoovers up nice words as you go - but each one of us has our own lexicon, built up through our personal experiences, and I've learnt never to be surprised at my own ignorance or that of others.

    My English teacher liked to annoy pupils by using words they didn't know. On one occasion she used a word pronounced "hyper bowl". She was not happy when corrected and went with the argument that it was just an alternative pronunciation. Of course kids are fairly resourceful on things like this, so it didn't take long for a dictionary to be produced which showed only one form of pronunciation of the word hyperbole.



  • briantrumpet
    briantrumpet Posts: 17,828
    One of the significant factors in whether a word makes it into people's lexicons, and into the dictionary, is its adaptability to other forms - nouns, adjectives, adverbs, etc.

    For instance, t

    I do enjoy trying out words on school pupils, individually, or in groups. I'm often intrigued by how limited their vocabulary can be, especially since I'm in contexts with lots of switched-on young people. I remember being amused, years ago, when asked about the meaning of the word 'melancholy' one pupil said "Is it a fruit" (he went on to read law at Oxford), and another said "Is it a vegetable?" I'm afraid I might have guffawed a bit at the second one, having heard the first one earlier in the day.

    Anyway, my latest one was 'ephemeral'. Out of a group of about 20, only one knew it, and she gave a dictionary definition, pretty much verbatim.

    So, as a straw poll, without cheating, how many of you know it, or don't? Honest answers on a postcard...

    I know vocabulary increases with age - like TBB above, one hoovers up nice words as you go - but each one of us has our own lexicon, built up through our personal experiences, and I've learnt never to be surprised at my own ignorance or that of others.

    My English teacher liked to annoy pupils by using words they didn't know. On one occasion she used a word pronounced "hyper bowl". She was not happy when corrected and went with the argument that it was just an alternative pronunciation. Of course kids are fairly resourceful on things like this, so it didn't take long for a dictionary to be produced which showed only one form of pronunciation of the word hyperbole.




    Haha, excellent.
  • TheBigBean
    TheBigBean Posts: 20,551
    I think I read in some book (fiction) that kids can generally beat their parents at sport by the age of 14 and by 16 they can patronise them at it. If vocabulary were a sport, it would definitely not true be true for me. Although it is true in actual sports.
  • orraloon
    orraloon Posts: 12,663


    Anyway, my latest one was 'ephemeral'. Out of a group of about 20, only one knew it, and she gave a dictionary definition, pretty much verbatim.

    So, as a straw poll, without cheating, how many of you know it, or don't? Honest answers on a postcard...

    I used to know what it meant, but that has disappeared, faded away into...
  • briantrumpet
    briantrumpet Posts: 17,828
    It's also sometimes hard to give a precise meaning in words to a particular word... especially one that you use in a standard phrase, and then someone says "But what does *that* word actually mean?" It's still fun to try though, or to ask someone else to.

    That's particularly the case with 'fossil' words, such as 'shrift', preserved in an idiom.
  • rjsterry
    rjsterry Posts: 27,594
    Related to Shrove Tuesday, I believe.
    1985 Mercian King of Mercia - work in progress (Hah! Who am I kidding?)
    Pinnacle Monzonite

    Part of the anti-growth coalition
  • briantrumpet
    briantrumpet Posts: 17,828
    rjsterry said:

    Related to Shrove Tuesday, I believe.

    It is, which is related to 'shrive', but I'm blowed if I can remember what it actually means without looking it up.
  • briantrumpet
    briantrumpet Posts: 17,828
    I've just looked it up:


    (of a priest) hear the confession of, assign penance to, and absolve.
    "none of her chaplains knew English or French enough to shrive the king"

    present oneself to a priest for confession, penance, and absolution.
  • rjsterry
    rjsterry Posts: 27,594
    That'll be the Reformation that did for it as a common word.
    1985 Mercian King of Mercia - work in progress (Hah! Who am I kidding?)
    Pinnacle Monzonite

    Part of the anti-growth coalition
  • veronese68
    veronese68 Posts: 27,289
    The pronunciation of teachers and kids thing reminded me of a story my nephew in Italy told me. In his English lessons he would speak English with an Italian accent so as to blend in, his teacher thought he was pretty good at English not realising he speaks English like a native. Whilst reading something out loud to the class he had to use the word "pier", given that he had lived in Brighton for 12 months a couple of years prior to this he was well aware of the correct pronunciation, even though he put an Italian slant on it. His teacher corrected him and said "it's pronounced pie-er", he stood his ground and said he was pretty sure it was "pier", teacher insisted so he had to carry on with "pie-er" every time.
  • rjsterry
    rjsterry Posts: 27,594
    I suppose when it caught fire it would have been a pyre.
    1985 Mercian King of Mercia - work in progress (Hah! Who am I kidding?)
    Pinnacle Monzonite

    Part of the anti-growth coalition
  • veronese68
    veronese68 Posts: 27,289
    Excellent, although I'm slightly irritated I didn't think of that spelling of pyre
  • rick_chasey
    rick_chasey Posts: 72,517
    No one else’s mother pick up dictionaries at the dinner table and make you define the word as best you could?
  • briantrumpet
    briantrumpet Posts: 17,828

    No one else’s mother pick up dictionaries at the dinner table and make you define the word as best you could?


    No, though the dictionary wore out frequently, as Mum did the Telegraph crosswords every day and Scrabble was one of the regular family games.
  • rick_chasey
    rick_chasey Posts: 72,517
    Nouns are easy, verbs ok, though the more common the verb is the harder they are (defining to compute is much easier than to run, believe it or not) and adjectives are a mixed bag.
  • TheBigBean
    TheBigBean Posts: 20,551

    No one else’s mother pick up dictionaries at the dinner table and make you define the word as best you could?


    No, though the dictionary wore out frequently, as Mum did the Telegraph crosswords every day and Scrabble was one of the regular family games.
    Telegraph crossword was considered too easy for my household growing up
  • rick_chasey
    rick_chasey Posts: 72,517
    I am remarkably bad at crosswords. Can't do them at all. Cannot make my head follow the paths needed to to work those out.
  • briantrumpet
    briantrumpet Posts: 17,828
    edited November 2022
  • DeVlaeminck
    DeVlaeminck Posts: 8,728
    orraloon said:


    Anyway, my latest one was 'ephemeral'. Out of a group of about 20, only one knew it, and she gave a dictionary definition, pretty much verbatim.

    So, as a straw poll, without cheating, how many of you know it, or don't? Honest answers on a postcard...

    I used to know what it meant, but that has disappeared, faded away into...

    Ephemeral - Short lived, not lasting very long, that's how I've always used it anyway.

    Laggard (is it a double g?) is just someone who lags isn't it - as in falling behind the rest but with a bit of an implication that they could keep up if they were committed to do so.


    [Castle Donington Ladies FC - going up in '22]
  • briantrumpet
    briantrumpet Posts: 17,828

    orraloon said:


    Anyway, my latest one was 'ephemeral'. Out of a group of about 20, only one knew it, and she gave a dictionary definition, pretty much verbatim.

    So, as a straw poll, without cheating, how many of you know it, or don't? Honest answers on a postcard...

    I used to know what it meant, but that has disappeared, faded away into...

    Ephemeral - Short lived, not lasting very long, that's how I've always used it anyway.

    Laggard (is it a double g?) is just someone who lags isn't it - as in falling behind the rest but with a bit of an implication that they could keep up if they were committed to do so.



    Yes, ephemeral.. 'transient' would be another way of expressing it. Interestingly, my most wordy pupil - mother an Oxford First in English & published author and father a barrister/judge - who reads avidly, didn't know it either, though he thought he'd heard it somewhere. I'm sure I've got lots of words like that, that if you asked me to pin down I'd do something waffly without being able to define it.
  • rjsterry
    rjsterry Posts: 27,594

    I think Twitter has been listening in, and is trolling RJS...

    Gnnnnhhh.
    1985 Mercian King of Mercia - work in progress (Hah! Who am I kidding?)
    Pinnacle Monzonite

    Part of the anti-growth coalition
  • briantrumpet
    briantrumpet Posts: 17,828
    rjsterry said:

    I think Twitter has been listening in, and is trolling RJS...

    Gnnnnhhh.

    That's an expression of appreciation I've not come across before, but I quite like it. Might use it myself.
  • rjsterry
    rjsterry Posts: 27,594
    I still have no idea what well-architected tool means. Does it mean well designed or well made?

    As an aside, the predictive text on my new phone has now learnt architected. Previously it identified it as misspelled.
    1985 Mercian King of Mercia - work in progress (Hah! Who am I kidding?)
    Pinnacle Monzonite

    Part of the anti-growth coalition
  • briantrumpet
    briantrumpet Posts: 17,828
    rjsterry said:

    I still have no idea what well-architected tool means. Does it mean well designed or well made?

    As an aside, the predictive text on my new phone has now learnt architected. Previously it identified it as misspelled.


    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer_architecture
  • rjsterry
    rjsterry Posts: 27,594
    edited November 2022

    rjsterry said:

    I still have no idea what well-architected tool means. Does it mean well designed or well made?

    As an aside, the predictive text on my new phone has now learnt architected. Previously it identified it as misspelled.


    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer_architecture
    Architecture to describe the structure of a computer/software is fine and has a lot of parallels with the built version. But that page doesn't even contain the word architected.

    It's also a terrible name for a product. Is it the tool that is well made or is it a tool to assess whether something is well-architected. Whatever that is.
    1985 Mercian King of Mercia - work in progress (Hah! Who am I kidding?)
    Pinnacle Monzonite

    Part of the anti-growth coalition
  • briantrumpet
    briantrumpet Posts: 17,828
    rjsterry said:

    rjsterry said:

    I still have no idea what well-architected tool means. Does it mean well designed or well made?

    As an aside, the predictive text on my new phone has now learnt architected. Previously it identified it as misspelled.


    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer_architecture
    Architecture to describe the structure of a computer/software is fine and has a lot of parallels with the built version. But that page doesn't even contain the word architected.

    It's also a terrible name for a product. Is it the tool that is well made or is it a tool to assess whether something is well-architected. Whatever that is.

    Argue with Mircosoft, if you'd like to.

    https://learn.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/architecture/framework/

    I suspect your dislike of the word is meaning you're finding ways to fault its usage. I don't like the word, per se, but I can see how it's developed as a specific concept with a dedicated neologism which describes it. I don't think you'll put that genie back in the bottle.
  • rjsterry
    rjsterry Posts: 27,594
    edited November 2022
    No, of course not. My main objection is that it is just ugly to read and to say. But beyond that I'm trying to understand. Like I said, architecture as a noun to describe the structure of a computer or software makes sense. Architect as a noun to describe someone who designs that structure also makes sense. It's the verb architected (presumably present tense architecting) that I find so out of kilter. Normally when a noun becomes a verb, the verb means something along the lines of 'to become [noun]' - but here it just seems to misunderstand architect as a verb in the first place. I'm also curious why the word designed was not felt to be adequate.
    1985 Mercian King of Mercia - work in progress (Hah! Who am I kidding?)
    Pinnacle Monzonite

    Part of the anti-growth coalition