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Joined: July 1, 2010  (email not validated)
Comments posted: 23
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Interesting. Like Jayles I'd have guessed that proverb use has been in a steady, sad decline in the last few decades (extensive use of proverbs reminds me of my grandmother's baking), and I'd have been wrong.

You've got to be a bit careful as some proverbs/sayings come to prominence as titles of films, books, TV programmes, etc, and you'll probably get a spike then. E.g. "when the going gets tough" (Billy Ocean, mid-eighties) and "birds of a feather" (Sharon & Tracy, early nineties).

I'm surprised by how new some of these proverbs are. Look at "fat lady sings" on Ngram.
"The apple doesn't fall far from the tree" - that one's been around for ages, but for some reason it seemed to skyrocket between 1980 and 2000. I wonder why.

chrisb July 6, 2014, 5:57pm

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We use kilometres here in NZ, but people still talk about mileage, just like mara said they do in Canada.
"What's the mileage on that car?"
"Eighty thousand kays."

People also say things like "it's done a lot of kays" but I've never heard (or seen) kilometrage. It's just not a pleasant word to say. For all the advantages of the metric system, I'd say its biggest shortcoming is linguistic: the imperial measurements are nicer and more convenient to talk or write about.

As for fuel economy, the metric equivalent of "miles per gallon" tends to be "litres per 100 km", in NZ at least. That feels weird because it's the inverse, i.e. a low number is good.

chrisb June 8, 2013, 6:19pm

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Yes people now seem to use "medication", "meds" and "medicine" almost interchangeably. "Medication" (or "meds") tends to be a bit of a euphemism: some people don't like to say they take drugs, tablets or pills. I also think there's a tendency to talk about "medicine" for a drug taken in liquid rather than tablet form.

As for "mentality" in that song, I think you can (and sometimes have to) break the rules in songs so that the lyrics fit.

chrisb November 1, 2012, 2:32pm

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I don't think I'd ever use it in conversation, polite or impolite. There was however a game show in the UK called Catchword (early nineties?) where you had to make the longest word you could from a given set of letters. This particular F-word came up all the time.

chrisb March 8, 2012, 1:10pm

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I don't mind the FYI world of electronic communication, but when people say "eff why eye" in conversation and want to touch base with me, that's a whole nother matter.

Chris B May 6, 2011, 10:24pm

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Off-topic: regarding AFL/NRL finals, they could get around all those terminology issues by just awarding the championship to whichever team gets the most points during the season like they do in football (I'm talking round ball here). The finals system to me is like a marathon where the first eight runners to reach 25 miles start the last mile at the same time.
Talking of octopuses (which is the only acceptable plural to me), how about octo-finals for the round before the quarter-finals?

Nigel_P: yes, pick up any old-ish book published in the UK and it'll be full of recognize, realize, etc. This whole anti-Z thing seems quite recent.

Chris B March 4, 2011, 2:34am

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I'd say underexaggeration was something along the lines of:
"His girlfriend looks about twelve!" when she looks more like eighteen, or:
"That painting isn't worth anything" when you could sell it for a few dollars.

Chris B November 29, 2010, 2:10am

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I'd say (nought) point two five percent. "Nought" is probably a British thing.

Regarding "point twenty-five", I'm not sure it's wrong (as a couple of you have said). I think it's just the American way of saying it. True, 0.25 has nothing to do with the number 25, but it doesn't have anything to do with the numbers 2 and 5 either.

Chris B November 17, 2010, 7:27pm

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For me it's pretty clear that "Who knows?" needs a question mark, just as other rhetorical questions like "What's the point?" need one.

As for your longer sentence Dyske, I wouldn't read it like a question (by the time I get to the end of the sentence, my brain has forgotten that it started with a "who") so I'd say a question mark is optional in that case.

Chris B November 15, 2010, 7:59pm

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Chris B November 9, 2010, 10:13pm

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Jawaharlal Nehru was the first prime minister of India. What number is Manmohan Singh?

Chris B November 9, 2010, 9:57pm

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I'm fairly sure the word "stymie" derives from an obsolete rule in golf: if your ball was on the green and another ball was blocking its path to the hole, that was just tough. You had to go round it, chip over it (?) or something. By extension "stymie" has been applied to anything stopping you from doing things.
Most often I hear the word used as a verb: "I've just had an operation and won't be able to drive for a few weeks. I feel completely stymied."

Interestingly a stymie in golf is very similar to a snooker in, well, snooker, and the usage of both words has been extended in a very similar way.

So "stymie" is similar in meaning to "stifle" but I doubt they come from the same root. I may be wrong about this however.

Chris B October 18, 2010, 10:42pm

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Caroline - I agree. "Just saying" seems to be the new "no offence", as in "no offence but (insert insult here)".

Chris B October 17, 2010, 5:43pm

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Shaun C:
I agree with what you say about "game" and similar words. I'd call 'a-e' a digraph just like 'ai'. You wouldn't say "bait" had a silent "i", would you? However I'd say words like "caste" and "gaffe" do indeed have silent E's.

Other Chris:
Well done on that list, even if there's the odd dubious one in there. Marijuana looks good for J. Lacquer is probably as close as you get to a silent Q. Regarding "Lefebvre" (which I've seen as a single word), I think the B is silent, not the V.

I think Richie's pronunciation of "people" is pretty normal for that part of the country. Final L's, as well as L's in words like "milk", turn into W's. Interestingly, here in NZ you hear something similar: "milk" often comes out like "muwk".

I see a few place names bandied about. I reckon we could just about do the whole alphabet with place names alone, for example Wymondham (in Norfolk) which has three silent letters.

Chris B September 28, 2010, 9:31pm

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For me it's not "ant" or "ont" or "awnt" but "ahnt". I pronounce the "au" the same as I do in "laugh". I come from the UK but have lived in New Zealand for the past 7 years. Everyone here pronounces it "ahnt" too.

Chris B September 28, 2010, 8:57pm

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Yes, silly me, it's just like the J in José - an H-type sound.

Regarding "could", did it gain an L by analogy from "would" and "should"? By the way, I'd say the L in "could" is "more silent" than that in "talk".

Chris B September 24, 2010, 4:28am

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When I met this symbol in maths it was pronounced "twiddles" and meant "is equivalent to".

Chris B September 23, 2010, 4:17am

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With "acquire" I'd say the C was silent, not the Q. I'm struggling with Q, but reminded of the Monty Python bookshop sketch - "four M's and a silent Q".
As for silent J, how about "fajitas"?
Silent M - "mnemonic" seems to work.
Silent O - "phoenix"?
And you can add "swimming pool" to the silent P's (!)
I agree with James above. I wouldn't say "mate" has a silent E because the E affects the pronunciation of the word.

Chris B September 22, 2010, 6:24am

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Hang on, after reading some of those replies, maybe those question marks in my post above are correct after all. They're statements, but they expect an answer from me so they're questions too. Now I'm confused.

Chris B July 1, 2010, 4:19am

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I think the issue here is that people see a "question word" and automatically put a question mark at the end. In my last job I'd get emails with "questions" like these:
Please tell me which of these figures is correct?
I don't know what spreadsheet I should be using??
I'd like to know when the new version will be available???

Chris B July 1, 2010, 4:15am

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