Decline of Vocabulary; Good or Bad?

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simonm
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Re: Decline of Vocabulary; Good or Bad?

Post by simonm » Wed Jan 03, 2018 1:39 pm

gitgeezer wrote:
Tue Jan 02, 2018 3:19 am
...
eleemosynary
condescended
victuallers
cavil
calibash
calipee
viands
contemning
gibbeted
Heliogabalus
ragoo


Is this decline to be regretted, or are we better off with our newer and simpler style?
I think I can live happily without this set …

:-)

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Re: Decline of Vocabulary; Good or Bad?

Post by gitgeezer » Wed Jan 03, 2018 3:38 pm

True, Simonm, some of those words are less useful than they once were. We don't hang criminals on gallows today as in Fielding's time, so "gibbeted" has lost much of its power. Calibash and calipee come from an era when turtle meat was a staple. Just as beef lovers today favor one or another part of a side of beef, turtle lovers distinguished between the flesh attached to the upper shell (calabash) and the flesh attached to the lower shell (calipee).

With a better knowledge of classical history than we have today, 18th century writers were fond of using classical metaphors. While we might call a heavy eater a glutton or a "pig," Fielding chose "Heliogabalus," a Roman emperor known for gluttony. Using this word had the added advantage of imparting an image of a great obese fellow.

Writers today would probably prefer "charitable" to "eleemosynary," but I would argue that the later choice fitted Fielding's meaning better:

"An author ought to consider himself, not as a gentleman who gives a private or eleemosynary treat, but rather as one who keeps a public ordinary [eating house or tavern serving regular meals at set prices], at which all persons are welcome for their money. In the former case, it is well known that the entertainer provides what fare he pleases, and though this should be very indifferent, and utterly disagreeable to the taste of his company, they must not find any fault: nay, on the contrary, good breeding forces them outwardly to approve and to commend whatever is set before them. Now the contrary of this happens to the master of an ordinary. Men who pay for what they eat will insist on gratifying their palates, however nice [fastidious] and even whimsical these may prove, and if everything is not agreeable to their taste will challenge a right to censure, to abuse, and to damn their dinner without control."

We can see that in the contrast between the two situations Fielding is presenting, "eleemosynary" works better than "charitable." "Charitable" might have given the reader the false impression that the meal is being provided to the needy, whereas Fielding is speaking of a dinner for invited guests.

"Ragoo" is just a different spelling of "ragout," which is still in use today.. "Victualler" is now out of favor, unfortunately so because it provides in one word what we now have to convey with two or more ("restaurant operator"?) or the awkward and to many, pretentious, "restauranteur."

"Viands" [food; fare] is out of favor, with probably not much of a loss, but I think I could make a case for the continued usefulness of the other words on your list.

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Re: Decline of Vocabulary; Good or Bad?

Post by Andrew Fryer » Wed Jan 03, 2018 3:57 pm

It is possible that Fielding is satirising the worst kind of Augustan English.
Dunno, never studied English lit.
However, I have read Anne Lister's diaries (she was born 84 years after Fielding), and perhaps a diary not meant for publication is a good place to find English as she is spoke, and it certainly doesn't bear any resemblance to Fielding's English.

I haven't looked anything up in the dictionary yet. eleemosynary I assume is the adjective pertaining to alms and that they both come from the Greek eleein, which means pity - hence Kyrie eleeison - lord have pity on us. Does this contradict your analysis?
(thinking about it, alms could come from the Latin alere, to nourish. I could look it up, but I'm too lazy)

I suspect they'd only have heard of Heliogabalus if they had read Gibbon, but the dates are curiously close.
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Re: Decline of Vocabulary; Good or Bad?

Post by amezcua » Wed Jan 03, 2018 8:56 pm

At least I can satisfy my annoyance about Hemingway here . I always thought he wrote the line "Ask not for whom the bell tolls". Oh no . He lifted that from a poem by John Donne . Or maybe I missed an attribution printed in the appendix to his book .
My take on that sentiment drifts ashore when an election happens and I think "Ask not what I can do for you , but what you can do for me ". Turned on it`s head it sounds deliciously selfish .
From the list above I looked up Heliogabalus and drifted onto Ozymandius (as you do ). A modern explanation of one phrase is an example of watering down the language . The " Shatter`d visage " is transformed into "Damaged stone head". Is that really a modern improvement ? Three words , or two words and an acronym , seem to be the pinnacle of modern speech today . Awesome , Insane and OMG. Any news reporter can substitute a good vocabulary by simply repeating the same word over and over (and over ).
Last edited by amezcua on Wed Jan 03, 2018 9:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Decline of Vocabulary; Good or Bad?

Post by Andrew Fryer » Wed Jan 03, 2018 9:03 pm

I'm not sure it's compulsory for an author to source such a quote - it's up to the audience to know it, isn't it?
Did Maugham source Cakes and Ale? Maybe he did, but that's not proof that it's compulsory.
Did H E Bates source The Darling Buds of May?
Did P G Wodehouse source all his Old Testament mock-heroic similes?
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Re: Decline of Vocabulary; Good or Bad?

Post by amezcua » Wed Jan 03, 2018 9:51 pm

"I guess " Hemingway thought "OMG "if I use that in the title of the book I could become "Insanely Awesome ". And that is " where we are at " today . SWIM (See what I mean ?) Apologies for adding the question mark there . Question marks are becoming obsolete .Basic commas are becoming optional ( not even good old fashioned obsolete )so we never really know if there should be one there or not . Nobody cares . No rule is in force to classify anything as a mistake or misspelling . If it sounds similar it must (or may ) be the same. Nobody really knows any more . The original question prefers the destruction of older words . Very sad . The older words provide a possibility for rhythm and variety , should the need arise .

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Re: Decline of Vocabulary; Good or Bad?

Post by ddray » Wed Jan 03, 2018 10:08 pm

Duplicate (yet again)
Last edited by ddray on Wed Jan 03, 2018 10:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Decline of Vocabulary; Good or Bad?

Post by ddray » Wed Jan 03, 2018 10:09 pm

amezcua wrote:
Wed Jan 03, 2018 8:56 pm
At least I can satisfy my annoyance about Hemingway here . I always thought he wrote the line "Ask not for whom the bell tolls". Oh no . He lifted that from a poem by John Donne . Or maybe I missed an attribution printed in the appendix to his book . ...
Or he may have just assumed that his readers would have the literacy to know the source of the title. Same with The Grapes of Wrath, Vanity Fair, The Sun Also Rises, etc etc.

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Re: Decline of Vocabulary; Good or Bad?

Post by hpaulj » Wed Jan 03, 2018 11:33 pm

gitgeezer wrote:
Wed Jan 03, 2018 3:38 pm
....
"An author ought to consider himself, not as a gentleman who gives a private or eleemosynary treat, but rather as one who keeps a public ordinary [eating house or tavern serving regular meals at set prices], at which all persons are welcome for their money. In the former case, it is well known that the entertainer provides what fare he pleases, and though this should be very indifferent, and utterly disagreeable to the taste of his company, they must not find any fault: nay, on the contrary, good breeding forces them outwardly to approve and to commend whatever is set before them. Now the contrary of this happens to the master of an ordinary. Men who pay for what they eat will insist on gratifying their palates, however nice [fastidious] and even whimsical these may prove, and if everything is not agreeable to their taste will challenge a right to censure, to abuse, and to damn their dinner without control."
...
Isn't Fielding just saying, in modern terms, that guests at a private dinner party have no business writing scathing Yelp reviews of the host's choice of Wedge Salad and Baked Alaska? Or is there some profound statement about the 'human condition' that I'm missing.

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Re: Decline of Vocabulary; Good or Bad?

Post by Andrew Fryer » Thu Jan 04, 2018 12:03 am

I don't know who understands what here, but since there are people around without English as a first language, Fielding is saying an author should write for his audience's pleasure and not his own. (but he's saying it's because they are paying, so he may be saying it tongue-in-buccal-cavity).
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Re: Decline of Vocabulary; Good or Bad?

Post by edcat7 » Thu Jan 04, 2018 12:42 am

ddray wrote:
Wed Jan 03, 2018 11:30 am
edcat7 wrote:
Wed Jan 03, 2018 10:22 am
My pet hate is people who are addicted to their mobiles and are glued to them. This is especially noticeable on the train. ...
No offense, but I don't know why you would hate that any more than someone having his/her nose planted in an "actual" book or newspaper. I'm certainly addicted to my phone, lol...
I can see your point of view: both seem to be unsociable. It's the addiction to social media that I dislike and worse, those who play games on their phones. But reading, whether it's from a paper book or ebook expands the brain. I've just finished Nelson Mandela's "Long Walk to Freedom" and am halfway through Donald Wood's "Asking for Trouble (The Autobiography of a Banned Journalist).
Remember Anthony Weller, please help. Contact myself or Aaron Green for details.

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Re: Decline of Vocabulary; Good or Bad?

Post by ddray » Thu Jan 04, 2018 12:47 am

edcat7 wrote:
Thu Jan 04, 2018 12:42 am
ddray wrote:
Wed Jan 03, 2018 11:30 am
edcat7 wrote:
Wed Jan 03, 2018 10:22 am
My pet hate is people who are addicted to their mobiles and are glued to them. This is especially noticeable on the train. ...
No offense, but I don't know why you would hate that any more than someone having his/her nose planted in an "actual" book or newspaper. I'm certainly addicted to my phone, lol...
I can see your point of view: both seem to be unsociable. It's the addiction to social media that I dislike and worse, those who play games on their phones. But reading, whether it's from a paper book or ebook expands the brain. I've just finished Nelson Mandela's "Long Walk to Freedom" and am halfway through Donald Wood's "Asking for Trouble (The Autobiography of a Banned Journalist).
Well I agree about social media. I've never had a Facebook account and don't intend to have one. I have a Twitter account but haven't touched it in over a year. I'm too verbose for that character limit :lol: I do play online chess on the phone though, so guilty :lol:

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Re: Decline of Vocabulary; Good or Bad?

Post by gitgeezer » Thu Jan 04, 2018 2:11 am

There's a lot going on here and it gets tricky, so you really must try to keep up.

An author ought to consider himself, not as a gentleman who gives a private or eleemosynary treat, but rather as one who keeps a public ordinary, at which all persons are welcome for their money. In the former case, it is well known that the entertainer provides what fare he pleases, and though this should be very indifferent, and utterly disagreeable to the taste of his company, they must not find any fault: nay, on the contrary, good breeding forces them outwardly to approve and to commend whatever is set before them. Now the contrary of this happens to the master of an ordinary. Men who pay for what they eat will insist on gratifying their palates, however nice and even whimsical these may prove, and if everything is not agreeable to their taste will challenge a right to censure, to abuse, and to damn their dinner without control.

Fielding is discussing two similes for understanding the authoring process and is showing why one simile is more accurate than the other. The two similes may be summarized thus:

1. An author is like a man giving a dinner to invited guests.

2. An author is like a man who operates an eating house, serving anyone who is willing to pay.

In the first simile, the host serves what he chooses to serve, as an "eleemosynary treat," and "good breeding" not only prohibits the guests from complaining about the quality of the treat, but "forces" them to commend it even though it be "utterly disagreeable."

In the second simile, the host must "gratify" the palates of his customers, no matter how "whimsical," or they will not hesitate "to censure, to abuse, and to damn their dinner without control."

Fielding is saying that an author should consider himself in the second way.

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Re: Decline of Vocabulary; Good or Bad?

Post by davebones » Thu Jan 04, 2018 4:50 am

I've been following the broadcasts on the PBS newshour in which a segment covers new writer of fiction, nonfiction and poetry, and I'm really excited to see how many talented and YOUNG writers are gaining currency. Listen to the poets they present here and you (dudes) :cafe: will be hopeful about the future of the English language.

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Re: Decline of Vocabulary; Good or Bad?

Post by Andrew Fryer » Thu Jan 04, 2018 8:32 am

edcat7 wrote:
Thu Jan 04, 2018 12:42 am
both seem to be unsociable.
Yes, although I have found that some people think that if you are reading a book, you are lonely and begging them to have a conversation with you.
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