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  1. - Top - End - #241
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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    Quote Originally Posted by BWR View Post
    This happens in real life too. In Norway at least there are tons of names of place names (and surnames taken from these place), that translate to 'hill', 'mountain', 'valley', 'clearing/farm','waterfall', etc. The explanation is that when these places were named they were the only instance of note in the vicinity so the locals didn't need to specify which hill/valley/mountain/farm etc. These are also generally the oldest names around because when you had to differentiate between them you already had the original unspecified form. It would not surprise me to learn this state of affairs was also the case for England and other places, and I would not be surprised if Tolkien knew this as well even if it is a phenomenon that for some reason is restricted to Norway.
    I really don't think that there are many places in the world where villages aren't named after simple geographical marks/dwellers/owners....

    Just googled my nearest neigborhood for better remembering, and yup there's mostly:

    "Cold Water"
    "Thorny"
    "Reedy"
    "Empty libera villa"
    "Sparrow's"
    "New Clay"

    In very loose translation.

    Most names that are obscure are mostly due to preserving some archaic vocabulary, morphology/phonology and undergoing some contractions.
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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    Quote Originally Posted by veti View Post
    Well, Charles was Spanish by ancestry and birth, so "of Spain" could refer to his origins rather than his official title. (Like "John of Gaunt", so called because he was born in Ghent, even though that province didn't feature in his impressive list of official titles.)

    And Charles' official title (as Anglicised) was certainly "Emperor Charles V", so that's not incorrect either. There was only one person in Europe at that time who was generally known as "Emperor", so really there's no need to say what he's the emperor of - the only possible ambiguity is in whether you're talking about the current Holy Roman Emperor, or some predecessor or pretender to that role.

    Also under his reign, the Empire was effectively split (he himself formally divided it into two parts on his abdication), with the western (loyal Catholic) portion being dominated by Spain in the same way as North America is dominated by the United States. So after his abdication, calling him "of Spain" becomes even more natural.
    Although he spent much of his life in Spain, he wasn't really Spanish - his family were German, and he was born and grew up in Ghent. His grandfather Ferdinand II put quite a bit of effort into trying to stop him inheriting at least the Aragonese parts of Spain, because he was a foreigner, and he wanted to be succeeded by a Spaniard. (Somewhat ironically, Charles' brother Ferdinand did spend a lot more time in Spain as a youth and was considered a preferable heir by their grandfather, but he ended up running Germany while Charles took over Spain).

    Like I say, I have no problem with "Emperor Charles V", nor with "King Charles of Spain", both of which are almost completely accurate, and I think I could even stomach "Emperor Charles of Spain". It's the specific combination, mangling his titles and numerals together, that bothers me. But I am a huge pedant.
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  3. - Top - End - #243
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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    Quote Originally Posted by Wardog View Post
    It's just like calling a city The City.

    I think part of London (the financial district) is called "the City", to distinguish it from the rest of London.

    As a child I was taught to refer to San Francisco as "The City", to do otherwise marked you as from out-of-state (like my father), or even worse from Los Angeles (like my mother)!

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  4. - Top - End - #244
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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    Quote Originally Posted by dehro View Post
    what manner of idiocy is this??
    how do you get through your education with any level of degree when you can't tell the difference between you're and your?? I have not been in school for about 2 decades but.. don't negative marks mean anything anymore? I am pretty sure that if I didn't know how to write a flawless sentence, albeit a stupid one, my teachers back in the day would have failed me often and hard enough for me to be held back a year.. and rinse and repeat until I learned it correctly.. Surely if you fail your classes until you get it right, it's bound to stick with you in the end? it takes exactly the same time to write something correctly as it takes to write it spelled badly.. and I'm not talking about dyslexia or other ironically hard words to spell.
    This whole point is undercut dramatically by the repeated decision not to capitalize words at the beginning of sentences.

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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    So, the format "[transitive verb] of [noun]" always makes the noun the object of the verb. If you say "the pillage of Rome", it's immediately understood that Rome is the target of the pillage, no matter how much pillaging they themselves did.

    The point being that, if a certain author of 1914 had just thought to omit the word "epilogue", then he would pull off his nifty bit of misdirection with the final chapter title, without completely cheating the laws of grammar. But no.
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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    Quote Originally Posted by DomaDoma View Post
    So, the format "[transitive verb] of [noun]" always makes the noun the object of the verb. If you say "the pillage of Rome", it's immediately understood that Rome is the target of the pillage, no matter how much pillaging they themselves did.

    The point being that, if a certain author of 1914 had just thought to omit the word "epilogue", then he would pull off his nifty bit of misdirection with the final chapter title, without completely cheating the laws of grammar. But no.
    Er... no, it doesn't. It does in the vast majority of cases, but no, you're incorrect that it always does. Or rather, there is no "[transitive verb] of [noun]" format that I can think of. "Of" can also mean "from" or "belonging to," and those meanings are used in the format "[noun] of [noun]", which, I might point out, is what "the pillage of Rome" actually is: you're using the noun form of pillage. So while yes, most people will understand Rome was the target of the pillage, it isn't "cheating the laws of grammar" to use that phrasing to mean "the pillage belonging to Rome" aka "the pillage perpetrated by Rome."
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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    Quote Originally Posted by Aedilred View Post
    It's one of those things that's fine in colloquial use but you feel it ought to have an official name as well, even if it's never used in conversation. (the Shire, that is; I was overtaken by a ninja)

    Though that set me off on another train of thought, and though not strictly a language misuse so much as a historical/stylistic inaccuracy, I always cringe slightly when historical dramas refer to "Emperor Charles V of Spain" - especially when this is used as an official introduction or the like. For those in the know, the chap commonly called Charles V was indeed Emperor Charles V [of the Holy Roman Empire/Germany/the West]* and was also King of Spain [strictly, King of Algeciras, the Algarves, Aragon, Castile, Cordoba, Galicia, Gibraltar, Granada, Jaén, Jerusalem, León, Mallorca, Menorca, Murcia, Navarre, Sardinia, Seville, the Two Sicilies, Toledo, Valencia, and the Canaries, but sometimes just "Spain" for the sake of brevity] - but he wasn't the fifth King Charles of Spain*, nor was he, formally, Emperor of Spain, so the conflated title is all over the place.

    I do understand why they do it, to be fair. Charles mostly crops up with his Spanish "hat" on, since that's the part of his vast empire he spent most time dealing with, and the false title emphasises that while also establishing him as an Emperor (and therefore Europe's Top Guy) but it always niggles at me a bit.

    *indeed, he was Charles I of all his Spanish kingdoms.
    What did people at the time actually call him? Did they call him Emperor Charles V of Spain, or Emperor Charles V, or some other title set (though doubtless when he was having himself introduced he had someone read the entire dang list)?
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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    Quote Originally Posted by Rockphed View Post
    What did people at the time actually call him? Did they call him Emperor Charles V of Spain, or Emperor Charles V, or some other title set (though doubtless when he was having himself introduced he had someone read the entire dang list)?
    Chuck. Just Chuck.

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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    Quote Originally Posted by Rockphed View Post
    What did people at the time actually call him? Did they call him Emperor Charles V of Spain, or Emperor Charles V, or some other title set (though doubtless when he was having himself introduced he had someone read the entire dang list)?
    "Your Highness"

    They would most likely just have referred to him simply as "the Emperor". There was only one* at the time so everyone would know who was meant. It's unlikely that the numeral would have been used at all except in official documents: Charles IV had died over a hundred years before so there was little need to distinguish them. Early in his reign and to avoid confusion with his grandfather, he might have been "the Emperor Charles". He could conceivably also have been "King Charles" or "King [Charles] of Spain", especially between 1516 and 1519, before he was Emperor. Again, though, it's unlikely a numeral would have been habitually used.

    In much the same way as Commonwealth citizens tend to refer merely to "the Queen" and everyone understands who is meant, while it's relatively rare for the name and numeral to get used unless it's needed for clarity or formality, I suspect it was much the same in the 16th century.


    *In Europe, at least. The Emperors of China, Japan, Persia, Ethiopia, and the Mughal Emperor, when mentioned at all, most likely were referred to as such, or by some other title (e.g. "Sultan").
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  10. - Top - End - #250
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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    Quote Originally Posted by Aedilred View Post
    Although he spent much of his life in Spain, he wasn't really Spanish
    In fact, when he first came to Spain (shortly after ascending to the Imperial throne, but before being made King of Spain, IIRC) he couldn't even speak Spanish, which did not endear him to the locals, and his first order of business was a PR tour of Spain to make amends.

    That said, like so many other Germans, he fell in love with the place and, while he never stayed put anywhere for very long, he did end up staying in Spain the longest and, after his resignation, retired in Spain (again, like so many other Germans after him )

    Quote Originally Posted by 2D8HP View Post
    I think part of London (the financial district) is called "the City", to distinguish it from the rest of London.
    The city of London is called that since Time Immemorial* ("The city of London shall enjoy all its ancient liberties and free customs, both by land and by water"). What we now know as London is actually the city of Westminster, who grew to encompass the city of London. Its name was changed to London relatively recently. But the City of London continues to exist inside London, as a completely separate legal entity.

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    *This is a legal term meaning "before the Magna Carta (1215)". Obviously, we do remember a time before it was called London, since we know its Roman name, Londinium.
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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    I wonder if City of London as a name is a Roman heritage, as it was for many Roman civitates with a bishop and a cathedral: civitas Mediolanum, civitas Coloniensis, civitas Parisium... Or if it was (re)introduced by the Normans.

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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    Quote Originally Posted by Vinyadan View Post
    I wonder if City of London as a name is a Roman heritage, as it was for many Roman civitates with a bishop and a cathedral: civitas Mediolanum, civitas Coloniensis, civitas Parisium... Or if it was (re)introduced by the Normans.
    Actually, the large conurbation wasn't referred to generally as "London" until the County of London was created in 1888. Prior to that, the individual elements making up the city were still referred to separately, so you'd come from Westminster or Kensington, not London. As for the City itself, it was pretty much deserted as the Roman empire wound down and didn't get properly re-built again until the Anglo-Saxons came along, and even then, it never became the capital--that was the city of Westminster along the river, sometime in the 12th century. The place we now know as the City of London was always called London (or Londinium, in Roman times), though, even when it was being rebuilt in the 9th century.

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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    In my countries language... lemme try to explain it...

    we have 3 letters that my friends keep mixing up one makes A (but also e, o, i, etc ), one is H (but also Ha He Hi etc.) and another is a more accentuated A.

    My friends write them all as either H or I (in the since of -ee). one is grammatically incorrect, and the other would be correct if they got the form right.

    An inoffensive way that I correct my friends spelling is by repeating the word they spelled in my own sentence, but spelled correctly. If I get their prior consent, I emphasize where they got the word wrong. without it, I'm not gonna impose grammatical correctness, some of my friends are dyslexic or just don't want to have to deal with that.

    example:
    (talking about D&D Beyond)
    --- "Is it like homebrues and such?"
    "It will have options for making homebrews, but for the time being it's a very useful 5e database. Try it sometime."

    -----

    another example is that in the same language, we separate words as male or female in usage, so we have two similar but different words for each number for this. I get that wrong all the time, I get upset when people correct me on it.
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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    The hill there is called The Hill. The water flowing from it is called The Water. The place by the water is called Bywater. The new row is called New Row.

    Somehow it just seems reasonable that the shire where all this can be found is called The Shire.

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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    ...reasonable that the shire where all this can be found is called The Shire.

    As I posted before, San Francisco is always "The City", to call it otherwise, or to ask "Which city?", marks you as "not from here".

    The worst is to call it "Frisco", which marks you as an outsider, or as someone who grew up poor near the now shuttered shipyards (most of the people who lived there are descended from people who came for work during World War 2).

    I wonder if referring to their shire as "The Shire" is a way for Tolkien to show that the Hobbits are similarly provincial?
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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    Quote Originally Posted by Prince Zahn View Post
    In my countries language... lemme try to explain it...

    we have 3 letters that my friends keep mixing up one makes A (but also e, o, i, etc ), one is H (but also Ha He Hi etc.) and another is a more accentuated A.

    My friends write them all as either H or I (in the since of -ee). one is grammatically incorrect, and the other would be correct if they got the form right.

    An inoffensive way that I correct my friends spelling is by repeating the word they spelled in my own sentence, but spelled correctly. If I get their prior consent, I emphasize where they got the word wrong. without it, I'm not gonna impose grammatical correctness, some of my friends are dyslexic or just don't want to have to deal with that.

    example:
    (talking about D&D Beyond)
    --- "Is it like homebrues and such?"
    "It will have options for making homebrews, but for the time being it's a very useful 5e database. Try it sometime."

    -----

    another example is that in the same language, we separate words as male or female in usage, so we have two similar but different words for each number for this. I get that wrong all the time, I get upset when people correct me on it.
    This is interesting. What is your country's language? (sorry, had to do it :P)
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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    Quote Originally Posted by danzibr View Post
    This is interesting. What is your country's language? (sorry, had to do it :P)
    (It's fair game, I'll allow it. I'm glad you didn't call me out on "in the since of -ee" ;) )
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2D8HP View Post
    I wonder if referring to their shire as "The Shire" is a way for Tolkien to show that the Hobbits are similarly provincial?
    Probably not, because everyone else refers to it by that name as well.

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    Quote Originally Posted by factotum View Post
    Probably not, because everyone else refers to it by that name as well.
    Are we sure of that? The LotR is operating under quite openly stated translation convention: the story is written by the hobbits themselves, and they translate the names of places (mostly) to what they call it. Yes, on a few occasions, we hear what the elves, dwarves, etc. call the locations, and IIRC there is a brief mention at the start of what the other races call the Shire, but otherwise, it's called the Shire because the map was drawn by [Merry|Pippin].

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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    Well, I'm going by Radagast saying to Gandalf that he was told to find him at an uncouth place called Shire, but as you correctly point out, that could well be translation convention in effect since the entire story is supposedly being recorded by Frodo after his return to Bag End.

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    Quote Originally Posted by factotum View Post
    Well, I'm going by Radagast saying to Gandalf that he was told to find him at an uncouth place called Shire, but as you correctly point out, that could well be translation convention in effect since the entire story is supposedly being recorded by Frodo after his return to Bag End.
    Consider that "Shire" was one of two clues that Gollum let slip, under torture, to the location of the Ring - and it was enough to lead the Nazgul to the right place. So the name must be known reasonably widely.

    And Gollum had the word straight from Bilbo, so "translation effects" aren't a plausible explanation.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fiery Diamond View Post
    Er... no, it doesn't. It does in the vast majority of cases, but no, you're incorrect that it always does. Or rather, there is no "[transitive verb] of [noun]" format that I can think of. "Of" can also mean "from" or "belonging to," and those meanings are used in the format "[noun] of [noun]", which, I might point out, is what "the pillage of Rome" actually is: you're using the noun form of pillage. So while yes, most people will understand Rome was the target of the pillage, it isn't "cheating the laws of grammar" to use that phrasing to mean "the pillage belonging to Rome" aka "the pillage perpetrated by Rome."
    The word I'm thinking of is "trapping." Also a gerund, but still: no. In any idiomatic sense, that's just not on.
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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    I'm surprised that I haven't seen the phrases 'right now' or 'right away' mentioned here. That is, using either of the phases to mean, 'at some point in the near future' instead of 'at this very moment in time." Maybe it's just a regional thing.

    Another thing that bothers me is the improper conjugation of irregular verbs. Such as the phrase, "I grinded the metal". Also, hanged/hung, singed/sang or sung, ringed/rang or rung... and so on and so on ad nauseam. While, I do understand folks who speak English as a second/third language getting irregular verbs wrong, I have less sympathy for poeple who have lived their entire lives speaking English (even though it is an overly complex, overly analytical, mishmashed hodgepodge of a language which doesn't even have a genderless pronoun to use when you are uncertain of a person's gender when speaking to them on the phone and end up inadvertently insulting them when you say sir/ma'am when you're in fact speaking to a person of the opposite gender to the one you used).

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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    Quote Originally Posted by The Second View Post
    (even though it is an overly complex, overly analytical, mishmashed hodgepodge of a language which doesn't even have a genderless pronoun to use when you are uncertain of a person's gender when speaking to them on the phone and end up inadvertently insulting them when you say sir/ma'am when you're in fact speaking to a person of the opposite gender to the one you used).
    I'm, like, 99% sure you mean "Title" and not "Pronoun". English has had a gender-neutral singular pronoun since at latest the Chaucerian era. Which is known because he used one.
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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    Quote Originally Posted by DomaDoma View Post
    The word I'm thinking of is "trapping." Also a gerund, but still: no. In any idiomatic sense, that's just not on.
    I was pointing out that speaking in absolute terms, even when saying something generally true, and decrying fringe case exceptions (even those which are awkward or unconventional) as "wrong" or "cheating the laws of grammar" is an incorrect way of stating/approaching things. In other words: just because, idiomatically (to use your word), a certain phrasing almost always means one thing that doesn't make using it to mean something else that it could technically possibly mean but almost never does wrong. Therefore, stating that it is wrong is, in fact, wrong.
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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    Quote Originally Posted by Jormengand View Post
    I'm, like, 99% sure you mean "Title" and not "Pronoun". English has had a gender-neutral singular pronoun since at latest the Chaucerian era. Which is known because he used one.
    Yes, I did mean to say (or type) 'title' instead of pronoun, though the point still stands that English lacks a pronoun to refer to persons of ambiguous and androgynous gender.

    As for the second point you make, you speak (or type, whatever) of 'they' and it's derivatives, I suppose. Let's see how that works in an actual sentence shall we?

    Bob, Mark and Alice were sitting in a room. Bob tied their shoes. Mark fixed them a drink. Alice did their makeup.

    Yep, you're right, no ambiguity at all.

    Edit - I do realize the argument to this is, "use the reflexive form of their", that is, themself, theirself, et cetera. Except that those forms are not accepted parts of speech, and never where. Also, if we plug them into our sentence from before we get;

    Bob, Mark and Alice were sitting in a room. Bob tied theirselve's shoes. Mark fixed themself a drink. Alice did theirselv'es makeup.

    Clumsy at best. Or just plain cringe-worthy.
    Last edited by The Second; 2017-06-27 at 11:35 AM.

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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    Quote Originally Posted by The Second View Post
    Yep, you're right, no ambiguity at all.
    Every language has ambiguity - your own sentence can be made a bit less ambiguous, like so:
    Bob tied their own shoes. Mark fixed them all a drink. Alice made their make up.

    Yes, we still don't know whose make-up Alice fixed, but a sentence can always be crafted ambiguously, through no fault at all of the gender-neutral pronoun. The moment you put three people of the same gender (or lack thereof) in the same situation, English language struggles:

    Alice, Beatrix and Chloe were sitting in a room. Chloe tied her shoes. Beatrix fixed her a drink. Alice did her makeup.

    Depending on how you read it, Chloe was getting ready with the help of Alice, or else Alice and Chloe were getting ready independently (or possibly Alice was applying make up on Beatrix while she got Chloe a drink, but that is less likely contextually due to the actions implied in the verb make-up, which preclude the subject from getting drinks at the same time. Given another verb, you could end up with no idea of who did what to whom).

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    Last edited by Grey_Wolf_c; 2017-06-27 at 11:34 AM.
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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    Quote Originally Posted by The Second View Post
    Yep, you're right, no ambiguity at all.
    The wierd part is the part where I never mentioned how ambiguous or otherwise it was.
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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    Quote Originally Posted by Grey_Wolf_c View Post
    Every language has ambiguity - your own sentence can be made a bit less ambiguous, like so:
    Bob tied their own shoes. Mark fixed them all a drink. Alice made their make up.

    Yes, we still don't know whose make-up Alice fixed, but a sentence can always be crafted ambiguously, through no fault at all of the gender-neutral pronoun. The moment you put three people of the same gender (or lack thereof) in the same situation, English language struggles:

    Alice, Beatrix and Chloe were sitting in a room. Chloe tied her shoes. Beatrix fixed her a drink. Alice did her makeup.

    Depending on how you read it, Chloe was getting ready with the help of Alice, or else Alice and Chloe were getting ready independently (or possibly Alice was applying make up on Beatrix while she got Chloe a drink, but that is less likely contextually due to the actions implied in the verb make-up, which preclude the subject from getting drinks at the same time. Given another verb, you could end up with no idea of who did what to whom).

    Grey Wolf
    A very astute argument, sir and or ma'am.

    Let me rebut, however, that even if we dispel all ambiguity, our gender neutral 'they' still falls apart. In this example, Mark will be androgynous.

    "Mark, Jenny, and Joan walked into a room. Jenny and Joan did each other's makeup while Mark put on their clothes."

    Who's clothes did Mark put on? I guess we could have written 'their own clothes', but this is just a clumsy patch, an ugly language hack, if you will.

    And finally, if I were asked to provide a solution, I'd say adopt a nice pronoun from another language. Perhaps, dia or hän.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jormengand View Post
    The wierd part is the part where I never mentioned how ambiguous or otherwise it was.
    The truly odd part is you that fail to comment on the meat of the discussion. The assertion I made was a simple conceit on my part used to make a point.
    Last edited by The Second; 2017-06-27 at 12:00 PM.

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    Default Re: Completely unimportant language misuses that bug you

    Quote Originally Posted by The Second View Post
    Who's clothes did Mark put on? I guess we could have written 'their own clothes', but this is just a clumsy patch, an ugly language hack, if you will.

    And finally, if I were asked to provide a solution, I'd say adopt a nice pronoun from another language. Perhaps, dia or hän.
    You have to apply the same hack to certain uses of gendered pronouns, so...

    Also, English already has vaguely-accepted, if unashamedly neologistic, unambiguously singular gender neutral pronouns such as ze/zir/zir/zirs and xe/xyr/xyr/xyrs and hir/hir/hir/hirs. You can always use one of them if you really want.

    Alternatively, you can ask the gender-neutral person in question what pronouns they prefer. Some will even use it/it/its/its pronouns, making the whole ordeal a lot simpler (until someone barges in insisting that humans aren't allowed to use it pronouns, like in the sentence "Oh hey, it's that guy who complains about pronouns!" or like in "That guy has a child. I hope it doesn't grow up like its father", which apparently no-one would ever say).

    Quote Originally Posted by The Second View Post
    The truly odd part is you that fail to comment on the meat of the discussion. The assertion I made was a simple conceit on my part used to make a point.
    Well no, I think "You're making stuff up on the spot" is significantly weirder than "I'm not talking about the things you want me to talk about".
    Last edited by Jormengand; 2017-06-27 at 12:06 PM.
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