Proofreading Service - Pain in the English
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April 20, 2012

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JJMBallantyne, to answer your question, the year 1440: "Fyne, or ryght good," according to O.E.D. Jjeff apparently took my sarcasm somewhat seriously, although I will argue with him that the point of this exercise is to defend those words that we wish not to have their original meanings lost. Thus, I can hope that enough of us point out the misuse of the word "literally" so that it becomes used incorrectly less. This occasionally happens in the evolution of words, when a misuse is pointed out and a poisonous branch is snipped. I would argue "ain't" is used less today than it was in the past, for instance. "Irregardless" has been outed as not being a real word, and those using it are corrected more often than in the past. I think JJMBallantyne's observation about the use of the word "Boy" as an interjection falls into this category. If there are enough people who would like to point out that this is in some ways a racist holdover, and should be discontinued, and make the case strongly enough, than it might work.

“hack” in “hackathon”

  • April 30, 2012, 6:41pm

From this website: :

The Tech (MIT student newspaper) Nov. 1, 1963 "Many telephone services have been curtailed because of so-called hackers, according to Prof. Carlton Tucker, administrator of the Institute phone system. … The hackers have accomplished such things as tying up all the tie-lines between Harvard and MIT, or making long-distance calls by charging them to a local radar installation. One method involved connecting the PDP-1 computer to the phone system to search the lines until a dial tone, indicating an outside line, was found. … Because of the “hacking,” the majority of the MIT phones are “trapped.” "

Fine, let's just change all the meanings of words to whatever we like, Hamish and JJMBallantyne. It doesn't matter if what we say is completely stupid. I get it.

-age words

  • April 28, 2012, 7:58pm

It seems to me that if the earlier posts are correct, "sewerage" predated "sewage," so it seems most likely that "sewage" was created by people misusing, by truncating, the word "sewerage." And over time, at least in many parts of the world, "sewage" became more used. As Tom Lehrer said, "What you get out of it depends on what you put into it."

The Best Euphemism for Shithouse?

  • April 20, 2012, 8:07pm

In America we say "restroom," which had some visiting Swedish friends in hysterics, as they pictured us going there to rest. But I thought the question was about a real outhouse, a separate place away from the house. That's the smelly phone booth.

I say this to that, Hamish..."%&^(*#&%^&#*%" But back on subject, I believe the friend is trying to help all those people who use "literally" incorrectly. We hear them every day, saying such things as "I'm literally dying from allergies," and the friend probably THINKS it would be better if they were to use "actually," but actually they are literally using "literally" incorrectly, and "actually" literally would not be better.

It would be impolite to verbalize that word, because it is difficult to say without spraying spittle on nearby listeners--both while actually saying it, and then immediately afterward when you are snorting trying not to laugh.

Resume, resumé, or résumé?

  • April 20, 2012, 1:30pm

I stumbled on this because I just saw on our University's official website they used the "two accent marks" version. I thought it looked dumb, and assumed one accent was correct (but that the no accented version was also acceptable). I can't understand the people who say the accent(s) should be used to distinguish it from the "continuation" form of the word, when there are SO MANY words we use that have two meanings. It's all in the context. I lean toward doing away with the accents completely and ripping off the French language in our own provincial manner. I'm just glad I'm old enough I'll never have to use one of these again, no matter how it's spelled.