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Favourite Misused Words

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Bondee
887028.  Sat Feb 18, 2012 8:46 pm Reply with quote

Or "definitely" as "definately". Or even worse, "defiantly".

 
tchrist
887032.  Sat Feb 18, 2012 9:02 pm Reply with quote

Oceans Edge wrote:

So whilst I did greatly enjoy Eats Shoots and Leaves, still believe in the value of the Oxford Comma, and greatly enjoy the sort of academic grumblings of discussions like this I'm not out with a big fat Sharpie ģ correcting green grocers' signs (as the beloved author of Eats Shoots and Leaves thinks perhaps we all should).

Some years ago so many folks in my ~100-kiloperson town kept scolding and scolding all the supermarkets that had ďSeven or less itemsĒ lanes, telling them they needed to swap less for fewer. Somewhat surprisingly, they actually all did so, and now not a one ever has a less there anymore.

I tend to think it was just because they got tired of hearing it. Too many OC types, you see. Where OC is not obsessiveĖcompulsive, but orthographically-correct. Or both ó and hey, does anal-retentive have a hyphen it it?

You think English signs written by English speakers are bad, you should see Spanish signs written by English speakers. If only I could get them to fix the bilingual wording on our city buses. Currently itís saying to yield bus seats to ďuna persona de edad avanzada o minusvŠlidaĒ.

Oops! It looks like itís about somebody with an advanced or handicapped age, not someone whoís handicapped or of an advanced age. There are no handicapped ages. (Well, ok, maybe there are, but thatís not whatís doing on here.) Their Ďhandicappedí is just too far from Ďpersoní, and it looks like the Ďorí is distributing two adjectives against Ďageí.

(Yes, they still say ĎminusvŠlidaí, which sounds, um, less valid, eh? Our political-correctness police havenít gotten around to Spanish yet.)

 
tchrist
887036.  Sat Feb 18, 2012 9:29 pm Reply with quote

Boris wrote:
By the way, the name "Inigo" should be "IŮigo".

I hate it when people misspell other languages just because they cannot find the obvious ALT-0241 combination in their damn keyboards.

Just saying, not trying to be pedantic or nuffink.
No more than usual, anyway.

That drives me crazy too, te lo juro. My problem is I canít keep track of which ones are IŮigos and which are ÕŮigos. If there really are any without the accent. You see plenty, but Iíd like to hear them say their name before I trust that itís been written right.

But memorizing Unicode character numbers is hard. Yes, what you wrote works for inputting the four-digit code (but not for longer ones) if Unicode input is enabled, but I usually just use OPTION-e for an acute accent on the next letter, OPTION-n for an upcoming tilde, etc. This is on a Mac, of course.

If itís an especially hard sequence, I use murine snarf-n-barf to grab a right-looking character from somewhere else and paste it into whatever Iím typing. I would never dream of leaving a diacritic just because I couldnít find it. I fear monoglot anglophones just donít understand how awful that is.

Iíve just published a book where I point out that the Oxford English Dictionary cannot be written with the typewriters of yesteryear, as it has (amongst many others) these terms, properly written with their diacritics and anti-dumb-typewriter characters:

Code:

AllerÝd       fÍte          NiÁoise        smÝrrebrÝd
aprŤs-ski     feuilletť     piŮon          soirťe
BokmŚl        flügelhorn    plaÁage        tapťnade
brassiŤre     GŲdelian      prÍt-ŗ-porter  vicuŮa
caŮa          jalapeŮo      ProvenÁal      vis-ŗ-vis
crŤme         MadrileŮo     quinceaŮera    ZuŮi
crÍpe         MŲbius        RagnarŲk       α-ketoisovaleric
dťsúuvrement  Mohorovičić    rťsumť        (α-)lipoic acid
Fabergť       moirť         SchrŲdinger    (β-)nornicotine
faÁade        naÔve         Shijō          ψ-ionone


(Actually, the OED term is ĎMohorovičić discontinuityí, but that didnít fit my columns above. And yes, those really are Greek letters there at the end.)

I try to be especially sensitive to peopleís names (like ÕŮigo). People hate getting their names misspelled. I think monoglot anglophones still donít understand that these are not optional ornaments, and that to leave them off misspells the word. One of our contributors is named var ArnfjŲrū Bjarmason. His name gets murdered a lot. People are too insensitive. Aevar Arnfjord Bjarmason just isnít the fellowís name.

--tom

PS: Did you figure out Ďmurine snarf-n-barfí?

 
Boris
887418.  Mon Feb 20, 2012 10:31 am Reply with quote

I mentioned earlier that the Spanish attitude of spelling is quite different from English.
Which basically is: "Write what you pronounce and pronounce what you write" *.

This means that, no matter how long a word is, every Spaniard will be able to pronounce it right, which it's quite an achievement.

When I first came to England I was quite annoyed at the lack of accents and "Ů" in keyboards.

The need to write in various languages forced me to remember the most common ALT sequences needed.
Most of the time, I just run the command "charmap" and have it handy for those less common diacritics.

For writing Japanese I use the IME Language Bar, which is a God-send, I must admit.


(*) with the notable exceptions of the "h" and the "v", which always follow their own pronunciation rule, but are the main cause of misspelling in Spanish writing, after the accents


P.S.: I did have to look up the "murine snarf-and-barf" expression, which sounded very much a USA term.

Funnily enough, I found a post in meta.stackoverflow.com saying:
Quote:
"Ō̤ ṳ̈s̤̈Ž̤ ÷̤p̤̈Ž̤r̤̈š̤,̤̈ š̤n̤̈d̤̈ Ō̤ ḧ̤š̤v̤̈Ž̤n̤̈'̤̈ẗ̤ ḧ̤š̤d̤̈ š̤n̤̈ˇ̤ p̤̈r̤̈Ų̤b̤̈l̤̈Ž̤m̤̈s̤̈ "̤̈d̤̈Ž̤c̤̈Ų̤r̤̈š̤ẗ̤Ô̤n̤̈g̤̈"̤̈ m̤̈ˇ̤ p̤̈Ų̤s̤̈ẗ̤Ô̤n̤̈g̤̈s̤̈!̤̈ :̤̈)̤̈ ʜɪɴᴛ: s/(\S)/$1\x{308}\x{324}/g"


by one tchrist :p

 
Spud McLaren
887510.  Mon Feb 20, 2012 2:22 pm Reply with quote

Back on topic:

Bold, when what's meant is bald. Can't blame TV/estuary English for this one - I remember a couple of my classmates (mis)using it in the late 1960s.

 
NinOfEden
887576.  Mon Feb 20, 2012 5:00 pm Reply with quote

Yeah, my dad pronounces it 'bold'...

 
WordLover
887618.  Tue Feb 21, 2012 2:29 am Reply with quote

tchrist wrote:
You think English signs written by English speakers are bad, you should see Spanish signs written by English speakers.
Why can't they get Spanish-speakers to specify what should go on the signs?

tchrist wrote:
If only I could get them to fix the bilingual wording on our city buses. Currently itís saying to yield bus seats to ďuna persona de edad avanzada o minusvŠlidaĒ.

Oops! It looks like itís about somebody with an advanced or handicapped age, not someone whoís handicapped or of an advanced age. There are no handicapped ages. (Well, ok, maybe there are, but thatís not whatís doing on here.) Their Ďhandicappedí is just too far from Ďpersoní, and it looks like the Ďorí is distributing two adjectives against Ďageí.
But the correct reading is also possible, isn't it? In Spanish, can't a conjunction (o) conjoin a PP (de edad avanzada) with an adjective (minusvŠlida)?

[quote=Boris]I hate it when people misspell other languages just because they cannot find the obvious ALT-0241 combination in their damn keyboards. [/quote]I share your cynicism. Acute-accented vowels are simply a matter of using the Alt Gr key; other non-ASCII letters are such a faff. I keep a file containing the ones I find I need most often. Luckily I 've never had to type large quantities of stuff in another alphabet.

 
tchrist
888093.  Wed Feb 22, 2012 10:55 am Reply with quote

Boris wrote:
I mentioned earlier that the Spanish attitude of spelling is quite different from English.

Which basically is: "Write what you pronounce and pronounce what you write" *.

(*) with the notable exceptions of the "h" and the "v", which always follow their own pronunciation rule, but are the main cause of misspelling in Spanish writing, after the accents

This means that, no matter how long a word is, every Spaniard will be able to pronounce it right, which it's quite an achievement.

Well, a Frenchman can always look at a never-before-seen French word and know how to say it, too (modulo things like ville). He just canít necessarily go the other way, hearing something new and knowing how to spell it. Oh, heíll likely make a good stab at it, but it isnít at all as easy as it is in Spanish.

Another difference between the Spanish attitude towards spelling and the English one is that omitting a diacritic in Spanish counts as an actual spelling mistake. It is very hard to convince monoglot anglophones of this simple fact, as they all seem to think that diacritics are just overly-picky decorations that are wholly optional and easily dispensed with. English-speakers brutalize all Western languages this way, horrifying though this should be (and is) to everyone else. Iíve seen French stripped of accents; German, too. Anglophones just donít get it.

The collapse of the Spanish sibilants can leave another gap in Spanish orthography: speakers with seseo (or ceceo) often have spelling troubles, for obvious reasons. I cringe whenever I read *demaciado, as itís something I could never say. For them it doesnít matter whether itís spelled c/s/z, since those are all the same for such speakers.

Itís like the b/v confusion that you mention, which is always possible since they represent the same phoneme (and pair of allophones) no matter which way theyíre written. Indeed I once had to sign a contract in Madrid that included the unsettlingly misspelled devolber. Eep.

I enjoy knowing homophones as azar/azahar, since there are so many fewer of them in Spanish than in English. Plus I adore the smell of orange blossoms, so itís cool that they have their own peculiar name. Per the RAE, weíve los moros to thank for that one.

Boris wrote:
When I first came to England I was quite annoyed at the lack of accents and "Ů" in keyboards.

The need to write in various languages forced me to remember the most common ALT sequences needed.

Most of the time, I just run the command "charmap" and have it handy for those less common diacritics.

Thatís essentially what I do, too. The Mac overs several keyboard layouts for the common ones, which includes nearly everything you need, even the occasional ú as in úuf or únophile.

I donít know what the ďcharmapĒ command is; itís not on any Mac or Unix/Linux systems that I can notice, and like Sir Stephen, I have no truck with Microsoft. I have my own little command-scripts Iíve written that help with this, so that I can, for example, type the command
Code:
$ uninames LATIN OE
 Ć  0152        LATIN CAPITAL LIGATURE OE
 ú  0153        LATIN SMALL LIGATURE OE
        = ethel (from Old English eūel)
        * French, IPA, Old Icelandic, Old English, ...
        x (latin small letter ae - 00E6)
        x (latin letter small capital oe - 0276)
 ɶ  0276        LATIN LETTER SMALL CAPITAL OE
        * low front rounded vowel
        x (latin small ligature oe - 0153)
 ᴔ  1D14        LATIN SMALL LETTER TURNED OE
        * glyph can also have sideways orientation

And then either grab whatever I need with the mouse, or else type in the actual numeric number.

If you have Perl installed on your system (I think Microsoft is the only vendor who doesnít ship it standard with all products, but it is easy enough to install after-the-fact) and arenít afraid to use it :), then Iíd be glad to tell you where and how to get such tools. You can get them directly from this directory, or you can install the CPAN Unicode::Tussle suite to get them all at once, plus some description of what they do. A lot of those helped in the creation of the 4th edition of Programming Perl, which Iíve just had published.

As you can probably tell, most of my recent years as a professional have been spent untangling the mysteries of Unicode text processing, not excluding a two-year stint doing academic natural language processing and computational linguistics for the nearby university. Itís really quite frightening how ASCII-minded the established toolsets are. On page 180 of version 3.2 of his seminal Elements of Typographic Style, Robert Bringhurst writes in his section on ďThe Hundred‐Thousand Character AlphabetĒ:
Bringhurst wrote:
Early computers and e‐mail links were, by comparison, living in typographic poverty. The alphabet they used was the basic character set defined by the American Standard Code for Information Interchange, or ASCII. Each character was limited to seven bits of binary information, so the maximum number of characters was 2⁷ = 128. Thirty‐three of those were normally subtracted for control codes, and one was the code for an empty space. This leaves 94: not even enough to hold the standard working character set of Spanish, French, or German. The fact that such a character set was long considered adequate tells us something about the cultural narrowness of American civilization, or American technocracy, in the midst of twentieth century.

Bravo for him! Bringhurst (himself a Canadian, I should note) has other choice words like that in his book, which I cannot recommend too highly.

Boris wrote:
P.S.: I did have to look up the "murine snarf-and-barf" expression, which sounded very much a USA term.

Well, snarf-and-barf may well be ó does UK English not have the colloquial expressions snarf = gobble, chow down on, eat up quickly and barf = puke, vomit, spew, upchuck?

But I imagine that next to nobody knows that murine is the formal English adjective for having to do with mice or rats. English has lots of words like that, many of which rather few people know. Theyíre considered ďlearnŤdĒ terms.

In the following list, the first of each noun/adjective pair is usually Germanic in origin, while the second is inevitably of Classical derivation (usually Latin, sometimes Greek): wolf/lupine, dog/canine, cat/feline, mouse/murine, frog/ranine, eagle/aquiline, crow/corvine, bird/avian, bee/apian, wasp/vespine, bear/ursine, chicken/galline, horse/equine, cow/bovine, sheep/ovine, goat/caprine, deer/cervine, seal/phocine, beaver/castorine, badger/musteline, fox/vulpine, otter/lutrine, ape/simian, musk-ox/ovibovine, manatee/sirenean, whale/cetacean, ant/formic or myrmecine, owl/strigine, magpie/garruline, &c&c&c.

The thing is Iíll bet that you know more of those, or at least recognize them when you read them, then does the average native speaker of English, since their Latinate versions are closer to the common names in Spanish.

Boris wrote:
Funnily enough, I found a post in meta.stackoverflow.com saying:
Quote:
"Ō̤ ṳ̈s̤̈Ž̤ ÷̤p̤̈Ž̤r̤̈š̤,̤̈ š̤n̤̈d̤̈ Ō̤ ḧ̤š̤v̤̈Ž̤n̤̈'̤̈ẗ̤ ḧ̤š̤d̤̈ š̤n̤̈ˇ̤ p̤̈r̤̈Ų̤b̤̈l̤̈Ž̤m̤̈s̤̈ "̤̈d̤̈Ž̤c̤̈Ų̤r̤̈š̤ẗ̤Ô̤n̤̈g̤̈"̤̈ m̤̈ˇ̤ p̤̈Ų̤s̤̈ẗ̤Ô̤n̤̈g̤̈s̤̈!̤̈ :̤̈)̤̈ ʜɪɴᴛ: s/(\S)/$1\x{308}\x{324}/g"

by one tchrist :p

Guilty as charged. Of course, it looks especially bad here because of the fonts used in the QI forums, which support next to no combining characters. Times New Roman, BTW, does remarkably well with such.

In case youíre curious, the way you construct such sillinesses is by putting a couple of combining characters after each non-whitespace characters. The first of these commands should run anywhere, while the second requires that your Perl be version 5.10 or later:
Code:
$ echo 'This is a messy string' | perl -CS -pe 's/(\S)/$1\x{308}\x{324}/g'
$ echo "This is a messy string" | perl -CS -pe "s/\S\K/\x{308}\x{324}/g"

That assumes you are running in a terminal set to UTF-8; otherwise it wonít look right. And you need a font and a terminal program that does combining characters. I believe that on a Microsoft command line, you have to use double quotes not single ones, and I donít know whether the dollar sign might be a problem.

As I said, I donít do Windows. I think Iíd install cygwin if I were forced to, so that I could have ďnormalĒ tools.

 
tchrist
888095.  Wed Feb 22, 2012 10:58 am Reply with quote

WordLover wrote:
But the correct reading is also possible, isn't it? In Spanish, can't a conjunction (o) conjoin a PP (de edad avanzada) with an adjective (minusvŠlida)?

Yes, certainly. I guess my programmer mind rebels at the ambiguity. Either that, or my contrarian nature just intentionally reads it the wrong way. It would be more felicitously worded, and unambiguous, to swap it around.

 
tchrist
888096.  Wed Feb 22, 2012 11:00 am Reply with quote

WordLover wrote:
I share your cynicism. Acute-accented vowels are simply a matter of using the Alt Gr key;

What in the world is an Alt Gr key? Iíve never had such a keyboard.

 
soup
888142.  Wed Feb 22, 2012 12:28 pm Reply with quote

tchrist wrote:

What in the world is an Alt Gr key? Iíve never had such a keyboard.


Alt Gr is Alternative Graphics

You only had Macs or are you a penguin?
Every keyboard I have had (and noticed what keys were and were not on it) has had an Alt Gr key
A la:-


Son's keyboard so please excuse the mess (mind you mine is not a lot cleaner).

 
suze
888155.  Wed Feb 22, 2012 1:14 pm Reply with quote

tchrist wrote:
English-speakers brutalize all Western languages this way, horrifying though this should be (and is) to everyone else. Iíve seen French stripped of accents; German, too. Anglophones just donít get it.


Although Italians do. There aren't as many diacritics in Italian as in French, German, or Spanish, and Italians do seem to regard them as slightly optional (quite apart from that odd tendency towards replacing them with apostrophes).

Swedes are a bit odd. No Swede would ever omit the diacritic part of š, Ų, or Ś, but the acute in ť seems to be regarded as optional.

 
gerontius grumpus
888156.  Wed Feb 22, 2012 1:15 pm Reply with quote

I'd like a keyboard with a Grrr. key

 
Oceans Edge
888168.  Wed Feb 22, 2012 1:58 pm Reply with quote

Ahh according to the husbeast... the Alt Gr key is mostly a European thing... as I'd never seen one either. All my keyboards have an ALT key, but no Alt Gr key (although they do appear to be the same thing... it might confuse some)

 
tchrist
888183.  Wed Feb 22, 2012 2:14 pm Reply with quote

soup wrote:
tchrist wrote:

What in the world is an Alt Gr key? Iíve never had such a keyboard.

Alt Gr is Alternative Graphics

For some reason, I kept thinking ďGreekĒ for that Gr.

I wonder what that whole graphics thing actually means this side of the Millennium. Itís not like we have Shift-Out escape sequences to get special graphics characters. Thatís all from the Bad Old Pre-Unicode days.
soup wrote:
You only had Macs or are you a penguin?

Oh, I'm completely multicultural. I run Darwin (read: Mac OS X) and OpenBSD, and occasionally RedHat and Ubuntu. The first pair are BSD variants and the second pair are Linux variants. Iíve run, and run on, BSD systems for thirty years now. You get used to what you know. Iíve survived more than three decades of computing without having to soil myself with Microsoft, and fully plan to go to my grave that way. Iíd rather fight than switch. Iíd rather get a Ďjobí as a Walmart greeter or a National Parks/Trust volunteer than ever deal with the dread Horror out of Innsmouth^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^HRedmond.

Although I imagine most of you who arenít running a new version of Mac OS, or who havenít installed special new Unicode 6.0 fonts yourselves, will be able to see these, there are now Unicode Ďcharactersí (to use the term loosely) from the new and admittedly somewhat silly emoji set that do work well for these things:
Code:

 🐧  U+1F427       PENGUIN
 😈  U+1F608       SMILING FACE WITH HORNS
 🐡  U+1F421       BLOWFISH
 🍎  U+1F34E       RED APPLE
 🍏  U+1F34F       GREEN APPLE

My favorite Unicode 6.0 font is George Dourosís Symbola.

The new versions of Mac OS X come with emoji that are um, chromatically enhanced. Itís kinda weird to see them popping out in cutsie-tootsie colors right in the middle of plain black-and-white text. Then again, they are emoji after all, so what do you expect?

soup wrote:

Every keyboard I have had (and noticed what keys were and were not on it) has had an Alt Gr key
A la:-


Son's keyboard so please excuse the mess (mind you mine is not a lot cleaner).

Sonís keyboard looks a tad um, sticky. Or at least well-goobered. Does he eat and type at the same time? :)

Iíve always been a big fan of the Happy Hacking Keyboards, so much so that I reprogram every keyboard I touch to behave like one. Itís much easier than reprogramming my fingers. Hereís a shot of one:



Notice how the control key is back where it belongs, and the CAPS LOCK key has been shuffled off to Buffalo where it belongs. Iím a touch typist, so never look at the keyboard while I'm typing, nor tolerate moving my hands from the home-row position because it slows me down too much. Thatís why I always use Control-H for backspace, because itís right under my fingers ó provided the CONTROL key is where it belongs. And I never use the mouse for editing text.#128520; U+1F608 SMILING FACE WITH HORNS

 

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