Decline of Vocabulary; Good or Bad?

Talk about things that are not necessarily related to music or the guitar.
amezcua
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Re: Decline of Vocabulary; Good or Bad?

Post by amezcua » Thu Jan 04, 2018 9:49 am

What will happen if we shave away all the less popular words ? Very soon a thing like poetry will disappear. Even jokes based on similar sounding words will grind to a halt .Every attempt at writing will end with the same old questions "Or have I missed something?"or "Is it just me ?" Then attempts to sound educated will bolt on "educated "phrases that stick out like sore thumbs . Emerging from the soundbite era of Tony Blair we were stuck with worse from David Cameron using popular words like "Gunna" to explain his policies for the future . Jeremy Corbyn has been hustled into a worse situation where his bearded face comes on the screen but his voice is rarely heard . He gets talked over by the newsreader as if he needs interpretation . Sport and weather news collide in the subtitles when a severe storm is shown in words as a Harry Kane .It`s all so confusing .
One of the best examples of our ( English speaking ) progress in vocabulary came from Mr Trump`s warning of a severe storm on the coast when he mentioned --Big Water--Ocean Water !!

Rasputin
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Re: Decline of Vocabulary; Good or Bad?

Post by Rasputin » Thu Jan 04, 2018 10:00 am

gitgeezer wrote:
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.
This passage is a bit grandiloquent for my taste - what I find interesting about it is not so much the lexical range as the examples of changing meanings that it provides. I regret the loss of the word 'nice' in the sense in which it is used here (some people do still say 'a nice question', but I'm not sure how widely understood that is). I think I can live without the ability to use the verb 'to challenge' with an object representing the basis of the challenge rather than the person or thing challenged, but I think modern English does lack a convenient way of expressing what Fielding expresses with the word 'control'. I suppose we could say 'an unlimited right' today, or perhaps 'an unfettered right' if we wanted something fancier, but it seems to me that the verb 'to control' has shifted in meaning (away from 'to monitor and potentially intervene, though not necessarily decisively') and is taking the noun with it.

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Andrew Fryer
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Re: Decline of Vocabulary; Good or Bad?

Post by Andrew Fryer » Thu Jan 04, 2018 10:05 am

Rasputin wrote:
Thu Jan 04, 2018 10:00 am
what I find interesting about it is not so much the lexical range as the examples of changing meanings that it provides.
Cute is an interesting one - I knew it was an abbreviation of acute, but I was surprised to see it written as 'cute in Raymond Chandler.

P.S. Since I'm studying Anglo-Saxon at the moment, I really can't be bothered to get into the game of complaining about language change.

Here's one for you - in Anglo-Saxon a shoat is a trout; now it's a pig. Go figure!
1975 Calatayud y Gisbert, Yamaha CG131S.

Rasputin
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Re: Decline of Vocabulary; Good or Bad?

Post by Rasputin » Thu Jan 04, 2018 10:12 am

Andrew Fryer wrote:
Thu Jan 04, 2018 10:05 am
Rasputin wrote:
Thu Jan 04, 2018 10:00 am
what I find interesting about it is not so much the lexical range as the examples of changing meanings that it provides.
Cute is an interesting one - I knew it was an abbreviation of acute, but I was surprised to see it written as 'cute in Raymond Chandler.
Did not know that! It will never be quite the same again.

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Andrew Fryer
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Re: Decline of Vocabulary; Good or Bad?

Post by Andrew Fryer » Thu Jan 04, 2018 10:14 am

Rasputin wrote:
Thu Jan 04, 2018 10:12 am
Andrew Fryer wrote:
Thu Jan 04, 2018 10:05 am
Rasputin wrote:
Thu Jan 04, 2018 10:00 am
what I find interesting about it is not so much the lexical range as the examples of changing meanings that it provides.
Cute is an interesting one - I knew it was an abbreviation of acute, but I was surprised to see it written as 'cute in Raymond Chandler.
Did not know that! It will never be quite the same again.
Well, in Chambers a shoat is a pig. I suspect that the OED will tell me that shoate is a dialect word for trout. But I'm oversimplifying to make a point. And in AS it's written sc(e)ót. Oops, you weren't even commenting on that!
1975 Calatayud y Gisbert, Yamaha CG131S.

Rasputin
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Re: Decline of Vocabulary; Good or Bad?

Post by Rasputin » Thu Jan 04, 2018 10:16 am

No, I was happy enough to leave the shoats to you... this word has never featured in my vocabulary in either sense!

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Andrew Fryer
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Re: Decline of Vocabulary; Good or Bad?

Post by Andrew Fryer » Thu Jan 04, 2018 10:20 am

Rasputin wrote:
Thu Jan 04, 2018 10:16 am
No, I was happy enough to leave the shoats to you... this word has never featured in my vocabulary in either sense!
Perhaps it should.

Did you know that a stag is a male deer 4 years old with royal horns, and a hart is a male deer 5 years old with surroyal horns? Ah, those huntan (sic) could teach us a thing or two!

Oh, and also we must revert to calling a bird a fowl/fugol and a young bird a bridd.
1975 Calatayud y Gisbert, Yamaha CG131S.

hpaulj
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Re: Decline of Vocabulary; Good or Bad?

Post by hpaulj » Thu Jan 04, 2018 5:16 pm

The other day while walk the dog I passed a young mother with baby stroller who was reading a real book! More often I see joggers listening to the phone with earbuds, or scrolling to a new song.

Books still make good Christmas gifts. But for myself I've bought more music scores than reading books in recent years.

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Contreras
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Re: Decline of Vocabulary; Good or Bad?

Post by Contreras » Thu Jan 04, 2018 11:06 pm

How could the answer to this be anything but 'Bad?
When left nearly entirely to its own devices, the central spirit of the Internet hive mind, its great howling id, tends toward darkness.

ddray
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Re: Decline of Vocabulary; Good or Bad?

Post by ddray » Fri Jan 05, 2018 12:29 am

Contreras wrote:
Thu Jan 04, 2018 11:06 pm
How could the answer to this be anything but 'Bad?
By substituting "streamlining", "changing" or "paring down" or some such for "decline". There's something to be said pro and con.

amezcua
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Re: Decline of Vocabulary; Good or Bad?

Post by amezcua » Fri Jan 05, 2018 2:40 am

Vocabulary is not restricted to books . Speech by normally uneducated folk is just as important .Look at words and phrases for Left Handed which may not feature in many novels . Cuddy wifted is a good example. That might be heard in or around Newcastle .A lamp in hand is nothing to do with candles. It`s when a girl friend has clouted her boyfriend and so he has "A lamp in hand ".He owes her one back .

gitgeezer
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Re: Decline of Vocabulary; Good or Bad?

Post by gitgeezer » Fri Jan 05, 2018 3:36 am

Lest it be thought that Tom Jones is just one paragraph of big words after another, I offer this delightful scene that takes place just after Squire Allworthy returns home after several months away and finds a strange infant fast asleep in his bed. He immediately sends for his housekeeper, Mrs. Deborah. Here we get a quite different set of vocabulary: "hussy," "whipt," "cart's tail," "sluts," "strumpets," "hap," "begot," "misbegotten," "wretches," "faugh," and "pap."

When Mrs Deborah returned into the room, and was acquainted by her master with the finding the little infant, her consternation was rather greater than his had been; nor could she refrain from crying out, with great horror of accent as well as look, “My good sir! what’s to be done?” Mr Allworthy answered, she must take care of the child that evening, and in the morning he would give orders to provide it a nurse. “Yes, sir,” says she; “and I hope your worship will send out your warrant to take up the hussy its mother, for she must be one of the neighbourhood; and I should be glad to see her committed to Bridewell, and whipt at the cart’s tail. Indeed, such wicked sluts cannot be too severely punished. I’ll warrant ‘tis not her first, by her impudence in laying it to your worship.”

“In laying it to me, Deborah!” answered Allworthy: “I can’t think she hath any such design. I suppose she hath only taken this method to provide for her child; and truly I am glad she hath not done worse.” “I don’t know what is worse,” cries Deborah, “than for such wicked strumpets to lay their sins at honest men’s doors; and though your worship knows your own innocence, yet the world is censorious; and it hath been many an honest man’s hap to pass for the father of children he never begot; and if your worship should provide for the child, it may make the people the apter to believe; besides, why should your worship provide for what the parish is obliged to maintain? For my own part, if it was an honest man’s child, indeed—but for my own part, it goes against me to touch these misbegotten wretches, whom I don’t look upon as my fellow-creatures. Faugh! how it stinks! It doth not smell like a Christian. If I might be so bold to give my advice, I would have it put in a basket, and sent out and laid at the churchwarden’s door. It is a good night, only a little rainy and windy; and if it was well wrapt up, and put in a warm basket, it is two to one but it lives till it is found in the morning. But if it should not, we have discharged our duty in taking proper care of it; and it is, perhaps, better for such creatures to die in a state of innocence, than to grow up and imitate their mothers; for nothing better can be expected of them.”

There were some strokes in this speech which perhaps would have offended Mr Allworthy, had he strictly attended to it; but he had now got one of his fingers into the infant’s hand, which, by its gentle pressure, seeming to implore his assistance, had certainly out-pleaded the eloquence of Mrs Deborah, had it been ten times greater than it was. He now gave Mrs Deborah positive orders to take the child to her own bed, and to call up a maid-servant to provide it pap, and other things, against it waked. He likewise ordered that proper cloathes should be procured for it early in the morning, and that it should be brought to himself as soon as he was stirring.

Such was the discernment of Mrs Wilkins, and such the respect she bore her master, under whom she enjoyed a most excellent place, that her scruples gave way to his peremptory commands; and she took the child under her arms, without any apparent disgust at the illegality of its birth; and declaring it was a sweet little infant, walked off with it to her own chamber.

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Peter Lovett
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Re: Decline of Vocabulary; Good or Bad?

Post by Peter Lovett » Fri Jan 05, 2018 8:38 am

I feel strongly that vocabulary comes with education. No education - poor vocabulary ... good education, usually good vocabulary. The real question in my mind is whether or not there is a diminishing need to use an excellent vocabulary? Can you say "texting"? Of course you can!
I disagree, as I believe you pick up a vocabulary by reading lots and lots of books. To that end I take my hat off to Andrew Fryer whose lists of books being read on that thread constantly amazes me. I have always liked reading, books not e-stuff, and have recently bought my own home where I have finally been able to unpack my collection and reread some of them again. Bliss. I even put up more bookshelves than I need to encourage me to buy more. It was also an opportunity to cull when I consider some of the dross that I have purchased over the years.
Did Maugham source Cakes and Ale? Maybe he did, but that's not proof that it's compulsory.
Andrew, let me enlighten you. The reference comes from a speech by Sir Toby Belch in Twelfth Night. Maugham wrote that, "the title is supposed to suggest the gaiety of life which my heroine's attitude at all events exemplified. If I had thought of it I might very well have called it 'Beer and Skittles'. All that according to a recent biography of Maugham by Selina Hastings.
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Andrew Fryer
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Re: Decline of Vocabulary; Good or Bad?

Post by Andrew Fryer » Fri Jan 05, 2018 12:26 pm

Peter Lovett wrote:
Fri Jan 05, 2018 8:38 am
Did Maugham source Cakes and Ale? Maybe he did, but that's not proof that it's compulsory.
Andrew, let me enlighten you. The reference comes from a speech by Sir Toby Belch in Twelfth Night. Maugham wrote that, "the title is supposed to suggest the gaiety of life which my heroine's attitude at all events exemplified. If I had thought of it I might very well have called it 'Beer and Skittles'. All that according to a recent biography of Maugham by Selina Hastings.
What makes you think I need enlightening? Isn't it clear I chose the quote (among others and in the context of a complaint about Hemingway not being the source of "for whom the bell tolls") because I knew Maugham had taken it from Shakespeare?
1975 Calatayud y Gisbert, Yamaha CG131S.

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Mark Clifton-Gaultier
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Re: Decline of Vocabulary; Good or Bad?

Post by Mark Clifton-Gaultier » Fri Jan 05, 2018 3:58 pm

Andrew Fryer wrote:
Peter Lovett wrote:
Did Maugham source Cakes and Ale? Maybe he did, but that's not proof that it's compulsory.
Andrew, let me enlighten you. The reference comes from a speech by Sir Toby Belch in Twelfth Night. Maugham wrote that, "the title is supposed to suggest the gaiety of life which my heroine's attitude at all events exemplified. If I had thought of it I might very well have called it 'Beer and Skittles'. All that according to a recent biography of Maugham by Selina Hastings.
What makes you think I need enlightening? Isn't it clear I chose the quote (among others and in the context of a complaint about Hemingway not being the source of "for whom the bell tolls") because I knew Maugham had taken it from Shakespeare?
Off topic but - long ago I read somewhere that Maugham took it from Purcell (who gives us the full text) rather than Shakespeare. Sorry - can't recall the reference now but, given the content, I'd say there's some merit in the supposition ... unless of course Maugham is quoted as specifically referencing 12th night in that biography. I haven't read it.

"I gave her Cakes, I gave her Ale,
I gave her Sack and Sherry;
I kist her once, I kist her twice,
And we were wondrous merry!

I gave her Beads and Bracelets fine,
I gave her Gold down derry.
I thougt she was afear'd till she stroked my Beard
And we were wondrous merry!

Merry my Heart, merry my Cocks,
Merry my Spright.
Merry my hey down derry.
I kist her once and I kist her twice,
And we were wondrous merry!"

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