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  1. - Top - End - #181
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    Quote Originally Posted by Asta Kask View Post
    In Finnish you can "put the cat on the table." Finns are weird. My cat jumps up on the table when he wants.
    you mean like this?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Asta Kask View Post
    In Finnish you can "put the cat on the table." Finns are weird. My cat jumps up on the table when he wants.
    A cat is a most useful thing. When you want to get straight to the point, you lift one on a table, and when you want to do your utmost best at avoiding going straight to the the point, you have one circle around hot porridge.
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    Default Re: Musings on Language #2

    How do you call this device in english?



    Because I just read that the english word we use in German does not actually exist in english. Which sounds silly to me, but is the harsh truth about cell phones.
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    That looks like a projector to me. What does that have to do with cell phones?
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    Default Re: Musings on Language #2

    Getting this thread back out for a topic I think we havn't takled about before.

    I've just read an article about some 80 year olds giving classes on reading and writing old German scripts. Since in Germany, we had quite a number of rather exotic scripts, which all have pretty much disappeared from schools and printing after world war two.

    Now I was still learning writing Cursive in primary school, which I think is still done everywhere in Germany, but not everywhere where the latin alphabet is used. It's useful to be able to read other peoples handwriting, but many of us stopped using it after 8th grade and I havn't used in in well over 10 years, even though I write a lot with pencils. If you can read Cursive, you can decipher most handwriting. Apparently I learned an older version, but even that one already did not include some letters you can still find in some places today.
    Fraktur is a completely different beast. I think I tought that one myself, which really only was possible because I knew cursive. No, Fraktur is not Nazi-Script. In fact they were the ones to really make a push to adopting standard latin script, I assume because foreign allies and colaborateurs couldn't read it. But Fraktur was mostly used in print, so you still can find it in many places and it is quite easy to get something to practice with and it always looks pretty much the same.
    Not so with Sütterlin, which was the handwriting counterpart. That one got also discontinued, so it is used only by people who went to school before 1941. Who are all now almost all more than 80 years old. Since it's handwriting, it was used for personal notes and letters, so you won't ever encounter it in printed books. In fact, I saw it only once in my whole life, when I was digging through old files for a research project on the 1930s. It looks completely different than anything else.
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    That's just very simple German, I know Cursive, but I can't read anything of it.
    And that's from a beginners textbook. Since it's a handwriting script, every text looks different:

    Good luck with that.
    Apparently the shape of the letter also changes depending on the letters next to it. And we had a couple of chaotic and confusing spelling reforms in the meantime, so you can't even guess an unreadable letter if you recognize the rest in the word.

    Could be Cuneiform to me.
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    Now that's a really messed up script, if there ever was one.


    I am currently learning Japanese and think I've now mastered two of the three scripts, and it's funny how I can read those without any trouble but am unable to read something in my own language, written in a script that quite a number of people in Germany used all their life.
    But that must be weird. You're just an ordinary pensioner wh used to have a simple job and no academic experience at all, and now younger scientists are comming to you with old papers, asking you for the same service they would ask of famous egyptologists who can read and translate hyroglyphs. And all you do is reading a short plain letter.
    Of course, there are books where the script is documented, so it's not like it will become a lost skill and the contents of all those old documents will be lost forever. But as a historian, you need to sift through huge stacks of papers to spot just one or two pages that contain something of interest, and if there are some you can't read, you just discard it and go to the next one. And even if you know it would probably be worthwhile to learn the script, since you will probably encounter more often in the future, it's still handwriting and knowing the letters in theory is a very different from being able to read whole text of shoddy, faded, and damaged handwriting with ease. That's something you learn from having used the script everyday and reading texts written by other people on a constant basis. 10 more years, and many of such documents will require finding obscure experts on ancients scripts in hard to find places.
    I think that's quite facinating and also slightly creepy. Yes, as a 75 year old, you know that you are old! But being one of a small group of elders who are the keepers of ancient lore lost to the people of the present world. That probably makes you feel a lot older.
    Though of course it's cool if you stopped working as a cashier decades ago and now highly educated people come begging to you to recieve your special powers.

    Is that a special case, since it just happens that it's now 70 years after a local writing system was replaced with a more common one? Or do you have that in other places as well, that old documents are no longer readable to most people? I think the Chinese are having something similar.
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  7. - Top - End - #187
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    Default Re: Musings on Language #2

    What do you think?

    Should "whom" be phased out of the english language?
    I am sure you can explain how the rules work, but language is not what is codified in some gramatical rules but what people actually speak with each other. And it's not even an issue of non-native speakers, even a big number of native speakers appear to never use it at all.

    In German, the genitive article is increasingly disappearing and even though I consider my speaking quite close to the gramatical standard, this is one thing I don't think I ever use at all.
    Das Ende vom Genetiv ist mir ziemlich wurscht.

    But what do native english speakers think? Is it something you even notice when people don't use whom when it should be used, and it something that makes anyone who does do it appear to speak bad english?
    I've looked up one site that has a couple of examples, and intuitively I think I would have used "which" instead of "whom" in most places. Or is that even worse than who?
    Or are you among those who could care less?
    (Sorry, had to make that joke. ;) )

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    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    ...
    the second one looks pretty much like how I learned and still use cursive..
    for reference, I'm 33 and learned it that way in holland first and then in italy
    that said, other than signing my name, I haven't actually written anything bigger than a grocery list by hand in years, what with computers and all.
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    Default Re: Musings on Language #2

    I personally like 'whom' better than 'which' because it's clarifying beyond context. However the 'rules' for 'whom' are one of the more shaky ones in terms of general understanding, so it's really easy to find it used 'incorrectly.'

    Heh, sorry, I'm purposefully messing around with apostrophes. That sentence used them as emphasis, both as segregation and sarcasm. Is it clear of the difference? Do you use such nuances in your written speech
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  10. - Top - End - #190
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    Default Re: Musings on Language #2

    To all intents and purposes, "whom" has already been phased out of the English language as it is spoken--nobody ever uses the word, or if they do, they risk sounding ridiculously formal; they might as well be speaking Latin. I couldn't tell you myself when it is correct to use whom as opposed to who!

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    Default Re: Musings on Language #2

    Quote Originally Posted by factotum View Post
    I couldn't tell you myself when it is correct to use whom as opposed to who!
    "Who" is a subject (it performs the action) and "whom" is an object (it "receives" the action of a verb or preposition).

    Bill gave Jim a letter.

    Who gave Jim a letter?

    Bill gave whom a letter?

    To whom did Bill give a letter?

    Et cetera.

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    Default Re: Musings on Language #2

    In all of those cases, who is correct, even when whom is also correct. This is thanks to, as factotum mention, the phasing out of the word whom in favour of just using who.

    See also: http://www.merriam-webster.com/video/0024-whowhom.htm

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  13. - Top - End - #193
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    Default Re: Musings on Language #2

    Quote Originally Posted by Xuc Xac View Post
    "Who" is a subject (it performs the action) and "whom" is an object (it "receives" the action of a verb or preposition).

    Bill gave Jim a letter.

    Who gave Jim a letter?

    Bill gave whom a letter?

    To whom did Bill give a letter?

    Et cetera.
    Note, however, that "Who" is used when the word undergoes movement (which, as an interrogative word, it almost always does). Someone who understands syntactic movement better than I do can probably explain why; Likely something to do with case-assignment processes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    What do you think?

    Should "whom" be phased out of the english language?
    I am sure you can explain how the rules work, but language is not what is codified in some gramatical rules but what people actually speak with each other. And it's not even an issue of non-native speakers, even a big number of native speakers appear to never use it at all.

    But what do native english speakers think? Is it something you even notice when people don't use whom when it should be used, and it something that makes anyone who does do it appear to speak bad english?
    I've looked up one site that has a couple of examples, and intuitively I think I would have used "which" instead of "whom" in most places. Or is that even worse than who?
    I'm a prescriptivist, so I'd rather "whom" stayed. I do notice when it's missed, although misuse of it is so common that it doesn't annoy me as much as some errors. "Which" would, I'd say, relate to objects rather than persons. You could get away with it, but I'd argue that "who" is less objectionable, even if wrong.

    I've never been much of a fan of the descriptivist position that "if enough people get it wrong, it becomes right". I can understand the logic behind it, but in today's digital age where people are communicating more and more in a context-free environment with no body language or tone of voice, I think precision of language is more important than ever. There's the odd word which is now pretty much useless (see "moot"; "literally" is going the same way) because it's been used erroneously for so long to mean its antonym that it now has no value as a concept since you have to explain what meaning you're assigning to it. I don't think that's a good thing.
    Or are you among those who could care less?
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    Default Re: Musings on Language #2

    Quote Originally Posted by factotum View Post
    To all intents and purposes, "whom" has already been phased out of the English language as it is spoken--nobody ever uses the word, or if they do, they risk sounding ridiculously formal; they might as well be speaking Latin. I couldn't tell you myself when it is correct to use whom as opposed to who!
    On the other side, I think it is correct to say "The machine whose lever broke off", isn't it?

    There probably was a word like "whichs", but that one is entirely gone.

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    Default Re: Musings on Language #2

    I don't like it, but I think it'd be acceptable, and I think it's the only way you can express that sense exactly.

    I'd prefer, though, "the machine (from) which the lever broke off (from)" (earlier "from" sounds more correct but a bit arch) or "the machine that the lever broke off" (albeit this could have a bit of ambiguity depending on context).
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    Default Re: Musings on Language #2

    Quote Originally Posted by Aedilred View Post
    I've never been much of a fan of the descriptivist position that "if enough people get it wrong, it becomes right". I can understand the logic behind it, but in today's digital age where people are communicating more and more in a context-free environment with no body language or tone of voice, I think precision of language is more important than ever. There's the odd word which is now pretty much useless (see "moot"; "literally" is going the same way) because it's been used erroneously for so long to mean its antonym that it now has no value as a concept since you have to explain what meaning you're assigning to it. I don't think that's a good thing.
    You're confusing clear communication with "correct" communication: These are completely different things, and one does not guarantee the other.

    Really I don't think you disagree with descriptivism here. We don't disagree with "You shouldn't say 'literally' with hyperbole because that's really confusing." What we do have a problem is with sentiments like "You shouldn't split infinitives because Latin didn't do that and Latin is the uberlanguage that all languages should strive to emulate."

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    Default Re: Musings on Language #2

    No, Yora pretty much summed up my descriptivist outlook. "rules" are an artificial concept placed on a fluid language. If people don't know when to say "whom", and people don't it's not a part of the language.

    I'd say that, at this point in history, and if not know than CERTAINLY in ten years time, you could definitely say that "whom" is an archaic word no longer used in modern English, except in such texts where archaicisms are encouraged and, yea, even prescribed. Academic texts and such-like.
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    Default Re: Musings on Language #2

    Quote Originally Posted by Gwyn chan 'r Gwyll View Post
    No, Yora pretty much summed up my descriptivist outlook. "rules" are an artificial concept placed on a fluid language. If people don't know when to say "whom", and people don't it's not a part of the language.

    I'd say that, at this point in history, and if not know than CERTAINLY in ten years time, you could definitely say that "whom" is an archaic word no longer used in modern English, except in such texts where archaicisms are encouraged and, yea, even prescribed. Academic texts and such-like.
    Also, how do you spell apron?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gwyn chan 'r Gwyll View Post
    I'd say that, at this point in history, and if not know than CERTAINLY in ten years time, you could definitely say that "whom" is an archaic word no longer used in modern English, except in such texts where archaicisms are encouraged and, yea, even prescribed. Academic texts and such-like.
    Oohh.... You're a native English speaker. You have no idea...
    Once you have a good grasp on the english language, it's easier for German students to read English academic texts than to read German ones. German academic texts are just really, really awful. And once you've read a few, you start to emulate it. The main goals of a sentence are not to make the information in it easily comprehensible, but to use as many rare words and complex gramatical constructions and to go without a period for as long as possible. It sounds smart, but only because nobody can read it.
    When I read english books, it always amazes me that they use a kind of language that I can follow with language skills I gained from reading forum posts and internet articles. It's not exactly like spoken English, but clearly the same language. With written German in academic texts, I am not so sure about that.
    If you read english scientific books, you may not completely understand what the information in a sentence means, but you can decipher the sentence. German scientific text are almost entirely in code. When German students have to take out their markers and resolve to the techniques from their first lessons in Latin to mark the subject and the verb, and underline the primary sentence and the secondary sentences differently, then there's something very wrong.

    Fortunately many German scientists know that there are not that many potential readers in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, so quite a lot start to publish in English as well. At the same time there are no translations into German anymore, so you can avoid reading text in German almost completely.
    Yes, avoid reading texts in your native language.

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    Default Re: Musings on Language #2

    I told that to my mother, who edits textbooks (she's actually editing a biology AND a psychology textbook right now. She says that since she started in the business, not a single new thing has been in the psychology textbooks, none of them), and she was horrified. Legitimately horrified.

    Edit: as for the "apron" bit, I don't understand. I spell it "apron". I don't think I've ever seen alternative spellings...
    Last edited by Gwyn chan 'r Gwyll; 2012-06-27 at 01:29 PM.
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    Default Re: Musings on Language #2

    I think he may be referring to the apparent origin of the word being a misspelling of "a napron" -> "an apron", as an instance of a simple mistake becoming a full-blown part of the language?

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    Supposedly it's the same with "orange" (the fruit) although I think that must have predated its adoption into the English language and happened somewhere in France.
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    Quote Originally Posted by factotum View Post
    I think he may be referring to the apparent origin of the word being a misspelling of "a napron" -> "an apron", as an instance of a simple mistake becoming a full-blown part of the language?
    Correct. A mistake made so much, it became the correct spelling and the old one was dropped. This happened in English, after the word had transferred from French.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rawhide View Post
    Correct. A mistake made so much, it became the correct spelling and the old one was dropped. This happened in English, after the word had transferred from French.
    Of course, it happened in the 1400s, when the idea of standardized spelling was not even a twinkle in our language's eye. If it looked like it sounded (since every letter was pronounced at the time), it was considered correct back then.
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    Quote Originally Posted by SaintRidley View Post
    (since every letter was pronounced at the time)
    As is just and reasonable.
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    Quote Originally Posted by noparlpf View Post
    That looks like a projector to me. What does that have to do with cell phones?
    I'm not sure that it's a projector. I though maybe it was an emergency light of some kind, though if it's either of those, then I, too, don't see what it has to do with cell phones.

    Perhaps if Yora would tell us what the supposedly non-existant English word that they use in German is it might help. And if that doesn't help, maybe telling us what the device's function is might.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dps View Post
    I'm not sure that it's a projector. I though maybe it was an emergency light of some kind, though if it's either of those, then I, too, don't see what it has to do with cell phones.

    Perhaps if Yora would tell us what the supposedly non-existant English word that they use in German is it might help. And if that doesn't help, maybe telling us what the device's function is might.
    It most definitely is a projector. It looks exactly like one, it's made by a brand that makes projectors, and if you punch in the model number shown in the picture into Google, you can find a review of it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dps View Post
    I'm not sure that it's a projector. I though maybe it was an emergency light of some kind, though if it's either of those, then I, too, don't see what it has to do with cell phones.

    Perhaps if Yora would tell us what the supposedly non-existant English word that they use in German is it might help. And if that doesn't help, maybe telling us what the device's function is might.
    They use "Beamer" for projector.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Siosilvar View Post
    They use "Beamer" for projector.
    Well, that word exists in English, but it isn't normally used to designate a home theater projector.

    And Rawhide has much better eyesight than me. I couldn't make out the brand name for certain, and I don't see any model number at all.

    Or maybe it's a better monitor instead of better eyesight.

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