July 25, 2005  •  m56

Zero conditional

Does anyone know where the term “zero conditional” comes from and why we use it for labeling the “unchanging Laws of Existence” conditional? What does that “zero” mean? (Looking for a bit of etymology here and not a desription of zero conditionals per se.)

April 17, 2005  •  andrew

Jedi

I’m wondering if George Lucas just made this word up. I found that sith was from the celtic word “sidhe” meaning “fairy, especially one that conjures dead spirits.” It seems really random that Sith would mean something and that Jedi would be meaningless.

January 30, 2005  •  goossun

L

Can one say “beforehandedly?” and if so should it be with double L or single. If rejected what word would you useinstead? By the way, is the any rule as to use one or two Ls when making adverbs?

January 23, 2005  •  katesmith

Punk

I was taught by my English Lit professor, whilst studying Chaucer and Shakespeare that the old definition of the word “punk” was “Prostitute”. Is this true? The only references I can find will only give me stuff related to The Sex Pistols & co. Any help? Thanks!

January 23, 2005  •  jude

Dew Claw

Anyone know the origin of the term ‘dew claw’ in referring to the extra claw on a dog’s leg?

January 14, 2005  •  goossun

B4 Dickens

I have always thought that “2 write” like this did not exist “B4″ the Internet and online chatting. But strange enough I saw in Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations that he has used this kind of spelling to picture his illiterate character that is Pip when he is still living with his sister and Joe: “MI DEER JO I OPE U R KRWITE WELL I OP I SHAL SON B HABELL 4 2 TEEDGE U JO AN THEN WE SHORL B SO GLODD AN WEN I M PRENGTD 2 U JO WOT LARX AN BLEVE ME INF AN PIP.” Does anyone know of any earlier instance of such thing?

January 10, 2005  •  solgarfunkel

Coke, kleenex, xerox

HELP! I understand that coke, kleenex and xerox are examples of synecdoches, but I believe that there is a word for the specific kind of synecdoche where a brand name has come to mean the generic name for a product. This search has been driving me moderately insane. Any help you can give will be truly appreciated by myself, my family, and my pharmacist.

January 9, 2005  •  Dyske

Tsunami

Why do English speakers use the Japanese word “Tsunami”, when there is a perfectly usable word “tidal wave”? Not just English speakers, even Germans, Italians, and French use “Tsunami”. Does Tsunami happen most commonly in Japan? Personally, I don’t remember any Tsunami incidents when I was living in Japan. Also, why do some people pronounce it “Sunami” when it starts with a “T”?

January 6, 2005  •  goossun

Credit card

What is the little machine called that one slides one’s credit card through it when one wants to pay. And which verb do you use when you do this act? Is it called a “printer” the part that prints out the receipt? Or has it a specific name in this case. What is it called when one hands ones credit card to the shop keeper for instance and then have to sign the receipt and what is it called when one just uses the machine and enter one’s PIN code? What is the old machine called that used to be used (it rarely still is) that makes a carbon copy of the credit card surface by placing it inside and sliding a part over it. I would appreciate if you could provide a wider glossary of credit card usage please.

December 31, 2004  •  goossun

all

Dictionaries say that the word, all -among other functions- is an adjective. I seem not to understand this. I was taught that to make sure whether a word is adjective one can make a sentence with [the specific] noun + to be + [the specific] adjective. i.e. “blue sky”, “sky is blue.” This formula seems to function in all the adjectives except “all.” Can anyone explain why the English dictionaries call “all” an adjective? I have looked up many examples, but it didn’t help.

December 26, 2004  •  goossun

Films

What does the title, Clockwork Orange mean? I have found this. Is it correct? Does anyone from London know this slang? I also wonder what exactly th etitle, Family Plot means if you have seen the film, I mean Hitchcock’s.

December 21, 2004  •  tealee

Conceptual Art

I’m wondering what the meaning of “Conceptual Art” is. Could anyone help me? Thanks a lot.

December 12, 2004  •  goossun

BCC

I was curious what the BCC feature of e-mail stands for and just found out that it stands for “Blind Carbon Copy.” Now I have a new problem: does this term - blind carbon copy - exist in terms of paper letter? If yes, what is it?

December 11, 2004  •  goossun

Ya’ese

Is there an English noun that means a woman who is old enough that doesn’t get menstruation anymore and therefore cannot be pregnant? I’m especially looking for an ordinary word, rather than any scientific’s. I can’t find such word, a noun, in any language (not even in my mother tongue) but in Arabic, that is, “Ya’ese.” Any help?

December 11, 2004  •  goossun

Hairy

I think I first heard the slang “hairy” in Apocalypse Now. The American Heritage says: “Fraught with difficulties; hazardous: a hairy escape; hairy problems.” In the anoted Wordworth edition of Joyce’s Dubliners it says, “too hairy: experienced, canny.” Have you ever heard this slang to be used in this sense? Joyce’s sentence reads thus: “She doesn’t know my name. I was too hairy to tell her that.” Could it be that the editor(s) made a mistake and it was “it” instead of “I” which then would mean closer to the sense we know of the slang? or what?

December 6, 2004  •  goossun

Bios

Mates, I’m in a big trouble. What does “bios” mean? It must be a Latin word, right? (And I tell you it has nothing to do with computer’s BIOS.) i.e. “...enablig the performer’s “presens” or scenic bios to attract the spectator’s attention...” [Eugenio Barba, The Paper Canoe: A Guide to Theatre Anthropology, p. 9. bios is Italic in the original text] you can check this as well.

November 6, 2004  •  perenna

Go + noun? Idiom or bad grammar?

Go + noun? Is it an idiom or bad grammar? There’s an old Finnish road movie parody about a Soviet accordion band (played by a Finnish group) that goes to the USA. The title of the movie is “Leningrad Cowboys Go America”. In 1995, a yearly art happening was born in Helsinki, Finland, where small art exhibitions are put up in pubs and restaurants. The happening is called “Art Goes Kapakka” (‘kapakka’ = pub). With Google you get about 8 000 results with search term “goes America”, and 25 000 with “go America”. In some of them America is the subject of the sentence, but in some of them it is used in the same way as in the Finnish slogans. What strikes me in the latter case is that so many of the net sites are Finnish or German. Now is this structure just bad grammar from Finnish slogan-makers who didn’t do their homework at school, or is it an idiom used also in the Anglo-Saxon world? I know the expression ‘go crazy’. Can a noun be also used?

November 2, 2004  •  perenna

Realize or realise?

I have this impression that American orthography started to differ slightly from the British spelling because the emigrants sort of started from a clean table in their writing, and spelling grew closer to pronunciation. Americans write ‘realize’, ‘organize’, ‘Elizabeth’, while Brits write ‘realise’, ‘organise’, ‘Elisabeth’: when said aloud, the words have a voiced sibilant, hence the ’z’ instead of ’s’. Also vice versa. The clearly sounding ’r’ in American pronunciation in words like ’word’, ’bird’, ’are’, should, according to my knowledge, derive from the same liaison between speaking and writing: because it is written, it can also be heard. The audible ’r’ is a kind of relic that has worn off from the British pronunciation. Is this so?

November 1, 2004  •  goossun

V-cards

Does anyone knows what “V-cards” mean? I was at a Hotel reception in Spain and there were a bunch of American teenagers around. One of them just said to the other “Go race some V-cards” by which he surely meant “shut up” and it was supposed to be offensive. I asked two of my American friends the next day and they said they had no idea what that could have been. I’m almost sure I heard it correctly because there was a Spanish girl among those teenagers who asked “what’s V-cards” and one of the American girls explained to her in a low voice that I could not hear. Though the word “race” might’ve been “raise” or something like that!

October 15, 2004  •  martin

“all but” - I hate that expression!

Can’t help it but I really despise the expression “all but”. How did a phrase that suggests the opposite of what it says ever come into currency? “Such actions were all but unheard of then” “Later, they were all but wiped out in a British attack” “They were all but exterminated by the Jedi” PS: For some discoveries in word coignage read Neal Stephenson’s trilogy The Baroque Cycle. A mere 3000 pages.

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