Word of the Day and the Use of the English Language

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Re: Word of the Day and the Use of the English Language

Post by Vito Simplicio » Tue Jan 17, 2017 4:46 pm

cantankerous

Adjective | kan-TANK-uh-rus

Definition: difficult or irritating to deal with

Did You Know?

It's irritating, but we're not absolutely sure where cantankerous comes from. Etymologists think it probably derived from the Middle English word contack (or contek), which meant "contention" or "strife." Their idea is that cantankerous may have started out as contackerous but was later modified as a result of association or confusion with rancorous (meaning "spiteful") and cankerous (which describes something that spreads corruption of the mind or spirit). Considering that a cantankerous person generally has the spite associated with contack and rancor, and the noxious and sometimes painful effects of a canker, that theory seems plausible. What we can say with conviction is that cantankerous has been used in English since at least the 1730s.

Examples of CANTANKEROUS

"[Kenneth] Lonergan's brow was furrowed, and he was speaking, as he often does, in a low, growling mumble.… Among his theatre and movie-industry peers, he is famous for being famously cantankerous."
— Rebecca Mead, The New Yorker, 7 Nov. 2016

"Far from being cantankerous, she says [Roald] Dahl was endlessly ingenious in his desire to amuse, even when mortally ill, and only grumpy when finishing a book."

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Re: Word of the Day and the Use of the English Language

Post by Vito Simplicio » Tue Jan 24, 2017 5:36 pm

uncouth

Adjective | un-KOOTH

Definition

1 : strange or clumsy in shape or appearance : outlandish
2 : lacking in polish and grace : rugged
3 : awkward and uncultivated in appearance, manner, or behavior : rude

Did You Know?

Uncouth comes from the Old English word uncūth, which joins the prefix un- with cūth, meaning "familiar" or "known." How did a word that meant "unfamiliar" come to mean "outlandish," "rugged," or "rude"? Some examples from literature illustrate that the transition happened quite naturally. In Captain Singleton, Daniel Defoe refers to "a strange noise more uncouth than any they had ever heard." In William Shakespeare's As You Like It, Orlando tells Adam, "If this uncouth forest yield anything savage, I will either be food for it or bring it for food to thee." In Washington Irving's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Ichabod Crane fears "to look over his shoulder, lest he should behold some uncouth being tramping close behind him!" So, that which is unfamiliar is often perceived as strange, wild, or unpleasant. Meanings such as "outlandish," "rugged," or "rude" naturally follow.

Examples of UNCOUTH

"Increasingly, consumers are turning to mints and breath-freshening strips that don't come with gum's social baggage—namely, how to dispose of it when the flavor's gone as well as the uncouth sight of one's jaws constantly working."
— Robert Klara, Adweek.com, 3 Oct. 2016

"No, I'm not some sort of barbarian who would open a bottle of wine to enjoy some before offering it as a gift. That would be uncouth."
— Irv Erdos, The San Diego Union-Tribune, 11 Dec. 2016

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Re: Word of the Day and the Use of the English Language

Post by freestroke » Mon Feb 06, 2017 3:58 pm

Flying by the seat of my pants, I'll guess that "cuth" is basically the same word as "kith".
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Re: Word of the Day and the Use of the English Language

Post by Vito Simplicio » Sun Mar 05, 2017 12:44 pm

affable

Adjective | AF-uh-bul

Definition

1 : being pleasant and at ease in talking to others
2 : characterized by ease and friendliness

Did You Know?

Affable is one of several English words that evolved from the Latin verb fari, which means "to speak." The adjective comes from Latin affabilis, which comes from the fari relative affari ("to speak to"), plus -abilis, meaning "able." Some other fari derivatives are infant, fable, and fate. Infant comes from the Latin infans, which means "incapable of speech" and combines in- and fans, the present participle of fari. Fable comes from the Latin fabula, a fari offspring that means "conversation." Fate comes from the Latin word fatum, meaning "what has been spoken" and deriving from fatus, the past participle of fari.

Examples of AFFABLE

Michelle looked forward to sharing her coffee breaks with Joe, one of her more affable coworkers.

"Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson is an affable, chatty fellow. But the filmmaker sounded particularly upbeat Tuesday when he jumped on the phone to talk about the upcoming Blu-ray and DVD release of his … Marvel superhero movie."
— Clark Collis, Entertainment Weekly, 24 Jan. 2017

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Re: Word of the Day and the Use of the English Language

Post by Vito Simplicio » Wed Mar 08, 2017 1:44 pm

postulate Audio pronunciation

Verb | PAHSS-chuh-layt

Definition

1 : demand, claim
2 : a) to assume or claim as true, existent, or necessary, b) to assume as an axiom or as a hypothesis advanced as an essential presupposition, condition, or premise of a train of reasoning (as in logic or mathematics)

Did You Know?

In 1703, the dedication of the City and County Purchaser and Builders Dictionary included the following words: "These your extraordinary Favours … seem to Postulate from me … a Publick Recognition." That sense of postulate, a synonym of claim or demand, has been used by English speakers since the early 1600s. (The word's Latin grandparent, postulare, has the same meaning, but postulate first appeared earlier in the 1500s in senses restricted to ecclesiastical law.) Postulate was also used as a noun in the late 1500s, with the meaning "demand" or "stipulation." That sense is now considered archaic, but we still use the noun postulate. Today, it usually means "a hypothesis advanced as an essential presupposition, condition, or premise of a train of reasoning."

Examples of POSTULATE

"Some postulate that the moment when machines surpass humans in intelligence may not be that far off."
— Vicky Allan, The Sunday Herald (Glasgow), 22 Jan. 2017

"[Dr. Kevin] Tracey, a neurosurgeon, scientist and inventor, first advanced what seemed a radical hypothesis in the late 1990s: He postulated that the vagus nerve is intimately involved in the function of the immune system."
— Delthia Ricks, Newsday, 3 Jan. 2017

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Re: Word of the Day and the Use of the English Language

Post by Steven Morgan » Fri Mar 10, 2017 6:40 pm

Susurration
sü-sə-ˈrā-shən
(Noun)

Whispering, murmuring or rustling.

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Re: Word of the Day and the Use of the English Language

Post by Steven Morgan » Fri Mar 10, 2017 6:44 pm

ter·gi·ver·sate
tərjəvərˌsāt
VERB
make conflicting or evasive statements; equivocate:

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Re: Word of the Day and the Use of the English Language

Post by Vito Simplicio » Sun Mar 19, 2017 3:12 pm

furtive

Adjective | FER-tiv

Definition

1 : a) done in a quiet and secretive way to avoid being noticed : surreptitious, b) expressive of stealth : sly

2 : obtained underhandedly

Did You Know?

Furtive has a shadowy history. It may have slipped into English directly from the Latin furtivus or it may have covered its tracks by arriving via the French furtif. We aren't even sure how long it has been a part of the English language. The earliest known written uses of furtive are from the early 1600s, but the derived furtively appears in written form as far back as 1490, suggesting that furtive may have been lurking about for a while. However furtive got into English, its root is the Latin fur, which is related to, and may come from, the Greek phōr (both words mean "thief"). When first used in English, furtive meant "done by stealth," and later also came to mean, less commonly, "stolen." Whichever meaning you choose, the elusive ancestry is particularly fitting, since a thief must be furtive to avoid getting caught in the act.

Examples of FURTIVE

Julia and I exchanged furtive glances across the room when Edward asked who had rearranged his CD collection.

"… I create a hidden fortress for the cake at the back of the fridge and by this I mean shove quinoa and brussels sprouts in front of it thus saving it for furtive late night snacking."
— Sherry Kuehl, The Kansas City Star, 28 Dec. 2016

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Re: Word of the Day and the Use of the English Language

Post by Vito Simplicio » Sun Mar 19, 2017 3:37 pm

Top Ten Punctuation Tips

1. Use apostrophes correctly

Maybe it’s because of its diminutive size, but the apostrophe tends to be neglected and misused in equal measure.

The apostrophe is used to form possessives (e.g., the school’s faculty, our family’s crest, the shirt’s collar, Bill Thomas’s house) and certain contractions (e.g., it’s, let’s, she’s, they’re, I’ve, don’t).

The apostrophe is not used to form most plurals (e.g., she is looking at several schools, the families have similar crests, these shirts are on sale, we are dining with the Thomases). There are three exceptions: plurals of lowercase letters (e.g., dot your i’s and cross your t’s); plurals of certain words used as words (e.g., we need to tally the yes’s, no’s, and maybe’s); and plurals of certain abbreviations (e.g., the staff includes a dozen Ph.D.’s and four M.D.’s).


2. Know where to place quotation marks

Periods and commas go inside quotation marks, even if they aren’t part of the material being quoted. All other punctuation marks go outside the quotation marks, unless they are part of the material being quoted.

“Any further delay,” she said, “would result in a lawsuit.”

His latest story is titled “The Beginning of the End”; wouldn't a better title be “The End of the Beginning”?


3. Know how to punctuate with parentheses

When a parenthetical element is included at the end of a larger sentence, the terminal punctuation for the larger sentence goes outside the closing parenthesis.

When a parenthetical sentence exists on its own, the terminal punctuation goes inside the closing parenthesis.

She nonchalantly told us she would be spending her birthday in Venice (Italy, not California). (Unfortunately, we weren’t invited.)


4. Use a hyphen for compound adjectives

When two or more words collectively serve as an adjective before the word they are modifying, those words should normally be hyphenated. The major exception is when the first such word is an adverb ending in -ly.

The hastily arranged meeting came on the heels of less-than-stellar earnings.


5. Distinguish between the colon and the semicolon

The colon and the semicolon can both be used to connect two independent clauses.

When the second clause expands on or explains the first, use a colon. When the clauses are merely related, but the second does not follow from the first, use a semicolon.

Semicolon: Only a third of Americans have a passport; the majority of Canadians have a passport.

Colon: Only a third of Americans have a passport: for most, foreign travel is either undesirable or unaffordable.


6. Avoid multiple punctuation at the end of a sentence

Never end a sentence with a question mark or exclamation point followed by a period. If a sentence ends with a period that is part of an abbreviation, do not add a second period.

I don’t particularly like the play Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? I didn’t like it even when I worked at Yahoo! I especially didn’t like it when I saw it at 5:00 a.m.

7. Use a colon to introduce a list only when the introductory text is a complete sentence

Not all lists should be introduced with a colon. The general rule is that if the introductory text can stand as a grammatically complete sentence, use a colon; otherwise, do not.

Correct: Please bring the following items: a flashlight, a comfortable pair of hiking boots, and a jacket.

Incorrect: Please bring: a flashlight, a comfortable pair of hiking boots, and a jacket.

Correct: Please bring a flashlight, a comfortable pair of hiking boots, and a jacket.

Correct: Please bring the typical evening hiking gear: a flashlight, a comfortable pair of hiking boots, and a jacket.

8. Use commas to indicate nonessential information

If explanatory matter can be omitted without changing the general meaning of the sentence, it should be set off with commas. If the explanatory matter is essential to the meaning of the sentence, do not set it off with commas.

Correct: The novelist Don DeLillo seldom gives interviews.

Incorrect: The novelist, Don DeLillo, seldom gives interviews.

Explanation: The identity of the specific novelist is essential to the meaning of the sentence. Otherwise, there is nothing to indicate which of the multitude of novelists is being referred to.

Correct: America’s first president, George Washington, served from 1789 to 1797.

Incorrect: America’s first president George Washington served from 1789 to 1797.

Explanation: America has only one first president. Identifying him by name is not essential to the meaning of the sentence.


9. Use a dictionary

Is it U.S.A. or USA? Co-worker or coworker? Lets or let’s? Teachers’ college or teachers college? Though these examples implicate punctuation marks (the use or omission of periods, hyphens, or apostrophes), the correct form can be easily determined with a good dictionary.

10. If in doubt, rewrite

The easiest way to solve a vexing punctuation problem is to avoid it. If you aren’t sure how to properly punctuate a sentence—or if the proper punctuation results in a convoluted, confusing, or inelegant sentence—rewrite it. Perhaps as more than one sentence.

http://www.thepunctuationguide.com/top-ten.html
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Re: Word of the Day and the Use of the English Language

Post by Vito Simplicio » Sun Mar 19, 2017 3:45 pm

Concerning the above post, other English speaking countries may not necessarily follow the same American rules. We'll probably hear from those folks. Also, Number 9 may be somewhat outdated since I think most people rely on spelling auto-correct rather than going to a dictionary.
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Re: Word of the Day and the Use of the English Language

Post by Mr Kite » Sun Mar 19, 2017 4:19 pm

I haven't noticed too many differences between BrE and AmE in terms of punctuation. The names for some of the punctuation marks are different (you won't hear "period" or "exclamation point" in the UK) but usage seems to be pretty much the same. One rule followed by some in the UK - but not in the US, as far as I can tell - is that abbreviations don't take a full stop when the last letter of the abbreviation is also the last letter of the full word - so Dr Jones is probably from the UK, whereas Dr. Jones could be from anywhere. I can't say that any other differences come to mind, though... there is the American use of # to mean "number", but that's not really a question of punctuation.

I doubt you'd ever be able to come up with a list that everyone agreed with, but I don't think the disagreement would break down along national lines.

I think 9 is terrible advice because a dictionary won't help you answer any of the example questions - in each case the answer is "it depends". 10 is also a bit defeatist...

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Re: Word of the Day and the Use of the English Language

Post by Andrew Fryer » Sun Mar 19, 2017 5:17 pm

Mr Kite wrote:you won't hear "period" ...in the UK
You used to, at least in my father's generation. If it has disappeared, it's probably because no-one knows the difference between a period and a sentence any more.
Years ago I read "The cat sat on the mat, and the dog barked." is one period consisting of two sentences linked by "comma and". Another way to write it is "The cat sat on the mat; the dog barked." One period consisting of two sentences linked by a semicolon.
I've been told that the book that told me that misinformed me, though.
Periods were a feature of Latin rhetoric. Proust was brought up in a strict classical education system, and his periods run for pages. But that's not the same as (what the English mistakenly believe to be) sentences that run for pages. That's why translating a Proustian period into an English sentence doesn't work. I've read Proust in French, and it is easier than reading him in English.
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Re: Word of the Day and the Use of the English Language

Post by Mr Kite » Sun Mar 19, 2017 5:44 pm

That's interesting. I think would have called those independent clauses, but I make no claim to expertise beyond being sorta kinda able to speak English.

I don't understand why, if periods really are a thing and are distinct from sentences, Proust's periods would become sentences when translated into English.

The French do seem to be comfortable with sentences (meaning segments of text between full stops!) that would make English speakers wince. I guess that is partly a cultural thing, but the language also seems to lend itself to it. I think it is to do with how long you have to hold one bit of the sentence in mind before you get the bit that completes it, and how many diversions you have to deal with in the meantime. It may therefore be that in the French, the periods are sequential and you can take each one in before moving onto the next, whereas in the translation they overlap and your internal language-juggler has more balls in the air. Perhaps then I have answered my own question and this is what is meant by saying that the French consists of periods but the English does not.

I suppose this does at least mean that the use of "period" to mean "a musical phrase made up of an antecedent and a consequent which are themselves complete phrases" is not necessarily an Americanism.

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Re: Word of the Day and the Use of the English Language

Post by Andrew Fryer » Sun Mar 19, 2017 5:50 pm

Mr Kite wrote:I don't understand why, if periods really are a thing and are distinct from sentences, Proust's periods would become sentences when translated into English.
What I mean is, Proust's periods end with a full-stop/period, and they are collections of sentences. English translators think that a full-stop signifies the end of a sentence, normally a simpler structure. It doesn't. They then translate the period into something it isn't meant to be - usually something with a vast number of interdependent main and subordinate clauses. That's how I understand it. I don't know enough about it to claim that's absolutely correct.
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Re: Word of the Day and the Use of the English Language

Post by Andrew Fryer » Sun Mar 19, 2017 6:34 pm

Incidentally, I've never had a punctuation lesson in my life - I make it up as I go along.

However,
Vito Simplicio wrote:Correct: Please bring a flashlight, a comfortable pair of hiking boots, and a jacket.
I do know that the comma after boots is known as an Oxford comma, and is mostly considered to be wrong, afaik.

Correct: Please bring a flashlight, a comfortable pair of hiking boots and a jacket.
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