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Chris B

Joined: March 22, 2011  (email not validated)
Comments posted: 53
Votes received: 76

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Recent Comments

With New Zealand, you have no choice. Well, informally you can say Kiwi, but there's no "New Zealandish" or anything like that. Are there any other countries whose adjectival form is simply the name of the country?

Regarding the other point, I'd find it quite odd if someone (in English) started talking about Italia or Deutschland. Watching the World Cup, English-speaking commentators and writers seem split on whether to say the Ivory Coast or Côte d'Ivoire. I much prefer the former.

chrisb June 20, 2014, 10:29pm

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Everybody get ready for the 10-year reunion on Tuesday! Is chas still around?

chrisb June 20, 2014, 9:58pm

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I don't think I was implying that the ligature is more common than the two separate letters. At least I wasn't trying to. Although I think the rarity of the æ and œ ligatures nowadays is largely because they're hard to type (for the same reason that you see things like "2.5 years" or "2 1/2 years" when "2½ years" looks much better).

Another (more mainstream) place you see 'daemon' is when an email bounces back.

chrisb April 21, 2014, 6:16am

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I remember hearing "looker-after-er". Gives me 18,000 hits on Google.

chrisb April 21, 2014, 3:50am

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@WW (April 15th, 1:36pm):
And who now uses (even in British English) færie, fœderal, dæmon?

I'm with you on fœderal, but I think there's a subculture in which words like færie and dæmon thrive. The æ ligature (or even just the 'ae' digraph which is unusual in English) has a certain mystical, mediæval feel about it.
Dæmons (which are nothing like demons) play an important part in Philip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" series.

chrisb April 21, 2014, 3:41am

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Yeah I remember seeing "livre" (= pound), meaning half a kilo, in French markets.

I used OS maps in my work for a short time before I moved to NZ. Those maps were 2 cm to the km, or 1:50,000. You can see why they went metric early on - 1 inch to the mile is (Google...) 1:63,360 - ugh!

I don't remember seeing footpath signs in km over there - are they a new thing?

Yes, the hybrid system works quite well. I imagine the last thing to go metric in the UK will be the pint. If they start serving half-litres there will be a public outcry.

chrisb February 8, 2014, 7:47pm

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Interesting. I've seen this in NZ too. It's perhaps more understandable here because we're fully metricated, but I still found it odd. I agree that we should keep "ton" in the idiom. Incidentally I often hear "tonne" (when people are actually talking about the weight) pronounced to rhyme with "gone".

I'm in two minds about metric/imperial. Metric is much more convenient for just about all purposes (even if base 12 does have some advantages over base 10), but for me linguistically (and that's what this site is about, right?) imperial wins by a mile.

Words like "centimetre" and "millilitre" have a technical, clinical feel about them. If you come across them in a novel, it almost feels like you've been transported to a lab. The shorter imperial terms have a more natural feel to them. And they're more evocative. "Inch" sounds like a short distance, doesn't it? "Mile" sounds like a long way. "Furlong" (and I know that's obsolete outside horse racing) makes you think of "far" and "long", and it's a nice word to say.
"Pound" and "stone" give little indication of how heavy they are, but at least they sound like weights. "Kilogram" could be pretty much anything (and it's clumsy to say - I say "kilo" or "kay-gee").

It's interesting that even in NZ, where we're fully metric, people have an aversion to metric for height. I've worked for a life insurance company. When customers are asked to give their height and weight over the phone, most people come out with something like "five-ten and, um, eighty kay-gees".

chrisb February 6, 2014, 1:25am

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WW: I do think it's worth separating out the technological jargon from meaningless or baffling business buzzwords.

Spot on. Jargon is very useful in many spheres, as a time-saver and to avoid ambiguity. Think of sailing (which is full of jargon) - time is of the essence there. There's no reason why business should be any different.
However when someone asks me "Did you touch base with x in regards to y?" this adds nothing (and when I hear something like this, the use of language completely overshadows the content, to the point where I don't take in who and what x and y are).
A lot of this unnecessary BS tends to be used by management types, perhaps to make their jobs (and themselves) sound more important than they are.
And sometimes the buzzwords actively subtract value (they make things opaque, often deliberately) as you mentioned above.

The biggest surprise for me, since I entered the business world, has been how much spoken BS I come across on a daily basis, as well as written.

chrisb November 25, 2013, 3:50pm

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WW: I do hear things like "six past ten" and "twenty-one to eleven" on the radio here in NZ.
I think how we talk about time varies a lot between the different forms of English.
For instance, "half nine" (for 9:30) is very common in the UK, rather less common in NZ, and I'm guessing almost unheard of in America. (In German and Dutch, "half nine", or its equivalent, means 8:30!)

Cherochaun: when I first read your comment I thought your "minute" was the thing there are 60 of between one o'clock and two o'clock, but it appears you mean the other kind of minute.
I think most of us do know the correct answer: it's short for "of the clock".

chrisb October 26, 2013, 8:49pm

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Funny you should mention that WW.
As it happens I lived in Birmingham for three years and saw Blues play a number of times. Yes it's definitely 'on to' as two separate words. In the song there's an audible pause between 'on' and 'to', supporters often abbreviate it to "Keep Right On" and, as you say, 'onto' doesn't make a lot of sense there.
I still check their results from 12,000 miles away. Big win over Millwall this morning (my time).

Wow - impressive knowledge and explanations there. I would definitely write "lead on to better things" too, although I wouldn't have been able to properly explain why.

I note that some people have an aversion to 'onto' and never use it (I'm not one of those people).

I should also mention the relatively new "please login". You can just about get away with 'login' as a noun (i.e. username and password), but as a verb I think it needs to be two words.

My previous comment was more of a general one about native speakers not knowing whether to use one word or two in various phrases, and I think a lot of them (us) don't care either.

chrisb October 2, 2013, 5:58am

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Errors like this are becoming more prevalent for sure. I see them everyday (sic). It maybe (sic) because people are exposed to a lot more non-proof-read text (such as online), and they get their ideas of what is and isn't correct English from that, so we end up in a vicious circle.

chrisb October 2, 2013, 2:37am

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Brus: o = i in "women".

chrisb September 24, 2013, 7:48pm

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@MagicMatt: "...'think' is not a noun people!"
It can be: "I'll have a good think about that and get back to you."

Although as people have said, we're dealing with an idiom, so whether or not 'think' is a noun is pretty much irrelevant.

chrisb August 30, 2013, 9:03pm

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Yes my own rogue apostrophes were deliberate! I hope I didn't come off as an apostrophe snob there. I agree that, for whatever reason, some people attach too much importance to the little mark. However, because of those people, wayward apostrophes can make you appear uneducated.

If it was up to me, I'd get rid of apostrophes for possessions (although what I'd do with "Chris's" I'm not so sure).

Interesting to see "errata's" there. I thought errata was already a plural!

Back on topic, I think "another think coming" is a richer idiom than the "thing" version, and I'm glad to have found out about it.

chrisb August 29, 2013, 3:05am

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I'll be honest: before reading this thread I thought it was most definitely "thing", so thanks for educating me! I doubt I've seen the phrase much in print, and in speech it's hard to distinguish between "think coming" and "thing coming".

As for greengrocer's apostrophe's, the last time I visited the UK three years ago I was at a market in Cambridgeshire and those apostrophe's were rampant! I remember seeing "asparagu's" and printed signs for hot dog's, chip's and so on. I wonder how many of them are deliberate.

chrisb August 28, 2013, 3:14am

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WW: "Between the late sixties and the early nineties there was hardly any grammar taught in British state schools as a reaction against the conservatism of grammar teaching at that time."

I was educated in the UK at the back end of that period; grammar hardly figured. I remember learning that verbs were "doing words", adjectives were "describing words", and that was about it. I picked up some English grammar in French lessons, and by watching Countdown when someone would have a dodgy "agent noun" disallowed.

chrisb August 8, 2013, 3:41am

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Wow, very nice blog WW. But dont's? C'mon! (Unless it's deliberate, like "apostrophe's").

chrisb August 7, 2013, 3:50pm

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I'm in NZ and I hardly every use (or hear) "farther"; it has largely fallen out of use I think.
The only time I'd really want to use "farther" and the superlative "farthest" is if I was talking about distances measurable in light years: "the farthest galaxies". Somehow in that situation plain old "further"/"furthest" doesn't cut it any more.

chrisb August 4, 2013, 6:23am

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Ah, I now see that "hone in" vs "home in" was a hot topic on here in late 2011. Hence Tom's use of "hone in".

chrisb August 3, 2013, 6:52am

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I've been pondering this. If enough people spell/pronounce/use a word/phrase in a certain way, does that make it correct?
If enough people say "nucular", is that pronunciation correct?
If enough people write "supercede", is that spelling correct?
If enough people write "Sorry your leaving", is that correct?

PS: I think "try and ..." is perfectly fine in all but the most formal of situations.

PPS: I notice Tom in TX wrote "hone in on" (Nov 2011). Is that accepted usage now?

chrisb August 3, 2013, 6:43am

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