Help with English

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by Saint, Aug 24, 2011.

  1. Saint Valued Senior Member

    Could/Can you please help me open the door.

    Why does my English grammar book teach that "could" should be used to indicate good manner?
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  3. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    "Good manners," not "good manner." A manner is a way of doing things: "The manner in which you hold your pen affects the appearance of your writing." But "manners" (plural) is an idiom meaning "polite behavior." "Your child's manners are terrible. He never says 'please' or 'thank you'."

    When you request help from a stranger, the polite idiom is to use "could you..." instead of "can you," "would you," "will you," or any of the other ways of asking. To say it this way is good manners.

    In previous eras, polite speech was even more complicated: Would you please be so kind as to help me open the door? Today no one in America talks that way. There may be "upper-class" families in England who still do.

    If the person is not a stranger, yet someone you don't know very well, or maybe your teacher, boss, or someone else who deserves your respect, it's always wise to err on the side of caution (another idiom) and use polite language. I.e., when in doubt, practice good manners. Being too polite will probably never cause you any trouble, but not being polite enough will.

    And remember, "Could you please help me open the door?" is, technically, a question, so it must be written with a question mark, not a period.
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  5. Saint Valued Senior Member

    Moochers = people who do nothing?

    abuzz = noisy?
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  7. Saint Valued Senior Member

    freeloaders = lazy people asking for help?
  8. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    To mooch means to borrow something with no intention of ever returning or repaying it. So a moocher is a person who habitually "borrows" money (or other resources) and never pays people back, so he never needs to get a job. This word goes back to the 15th century and originally meant a person who skulks around and picks pockets or commits other types of robberies.

    We have words like "atwitter" meaning a place or crowd that is characterized by twittering noises--the voices of happy, optimistic people. So "abuzz" was coined on that model. A place or crowd that is "abuzz" is characterized by buzzing noises--the voices of people who are discussing something controversial or ominous.

    Not necessarily lazy. A freeloader is a person who relies on other people for food, entertainment, etc. He may simply be unlucky and is dependent on the generosity of others. This word was coined during the Great Depression of the 1930s, when 25% of the people in the USA could not find jobs.

    Until very recently, the U.S. economy was booming, so anyone who habitually relied on the generosity or gullibility of his friends was considered to be lazy and dishonorable. Today there are a lot of honorable people who can't find work. Not as many as during the Great Depression, but it could get worse.
  9. Saint Valued Senior Member

    dearth = shortage?
  10. Saint Valued Senior Member

    “We do not have information on the use of an individual, we just know when they got or bought a mobile phone. So there are still limitations with regard to exposure assessment.” Plus, most of us live with so many RF sources, it’s difficult to study populations by levels of exposure.

    plus = used as a conjunction ?
  11. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Yes. "Dear" originally meant "rare," and therefore "expensive." Like long/length, broad/breadth, wide/width, weal/wealth, cool/coolth, warm/warmth, hale/health, "dearth" is a noun formed from the adjective "dear" by adding -th, meaning "the quality of being dear." In other words, "scarcity."

    This way of forming nouns from adjectives (as well as from verbs: bear/birth) is an ancient paradigm from Proto-Germanic. It's so old that it sometimes breaks down due to phonetic changes: high/height instead of high/heighth. This is not a living paradigm so we can no longer make up our own nouns by adding -th to other words. So don't start making up your own words, like "awesomth."

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    It's not really a conjunction. A conjunction connects two nouns, verbs, clauses, etc., and in this case there is only one clause. So in this case plus is used as an adverb, meaning "additionally." This is made clear by the fact that it's followed by a comma.

    However, plus can indeed serve as a conjunction: one plus one equal two.

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  12. Saint Valued Senior Member

    corrida = is it also an English word? Bullfighting? How about cock-fighting, any special word for it?

    Is cock-fighting legal in USA?
  13. Saint Valued Senior Member


    submerged = meant what?

    psychedelic = Of, characterized by, or generating hallucinations, distortions of perception, altered states of awareness, and occasionally states resembling psychosis (A severe mental disorder, with or without organic damage, characterized by derangement of personality and loss of contact with reality and causing deterioration of normal social functioning.).
  14. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member


    In Spanish una corrida is a bullfight.

    No. Bullfighting originated in Iberia and is still performed only in Iberia and Latin America. So we borrowed most of the words for it. But cockfighting was performed in England, so our language already has the necessary words.

    Cockfighting, bullfighting and dog fighting are illegal in the USA. As far as I know, any so-called "sport" in which non-human animals are trained to fight each other to the death is illegal.

    This leaves Portuguese/Brazilian bullfighting in a separate category. They wrap the horns in protective material so the bulls can't gore the people, and the bullfighters do not use swords and lances so they can't injure the bulls. It's basically a dance. It's a rough sport and people do occasionally get hurt, but neither matador nor bull die, and the bulls live to fight again. I'm not sure if this sport is legal in the USA. It might be.

    Literally it means "underwater." So when a person says he's submerged metaphorically, it means that he is overwhelmed by something that is monopolizing his attention, and probably even impairing his ability to function normally. When you're submerged, your only goal is to reach the surface and survive. So if you're "submerged" in the illusory world of a drug overdose, you feel like you're going to drown and are having trouble coming up for air.

    That sounds like a textbook definition from 1968, when the drugs known as "psychedelics" (in those days primarily marijuana, LSD, peyote and "magic mushrooms") first became popular. Today two whole generations of Americans, Europeans, Australians, and to a lesser extent people in other countries, have grown up with these drugs and know how to use them more-or-less safely.

    A considerable faction in my country make the point that these drugs cause fewer deaths than tobacco (lung cancer is one of the leading causes of death), promote less dangerous and antisocial behavior than alcohol (at least 10,000 Americans are killed in drunk driving crashes every year), and are less addicting than caffeine (I've been a caffeine junkie for more than 50 years--I can't stop and the antisocial behavior it causes has ruined my life three times).
  15. Saint Valued Senior Member

    fiscal cliff issue = financially critical issue?

    out of the woods= Free of a difficult or hazardous situation; in a position of safety or security. Why is it woods?
  16. Gustav Banned Banned

    cos you can get lost in em silly

    out of the woods and into the open aka free at last,free at last, thank god.......
  17. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    When you are moving forward and there is a cliff in front of you, you can't go any farther. If you do, you'll fall over the edge and die, or at least be seriously injured. So "cliff" has become a metaphor for any type of hazard that threatens to cause you (or anything else, like the economy) to fall or drop dangerously. A "fiscal cliff" is obviously a point which, if it is reached, will manifest in an economic crash. This is way beyond a "financially critical issue"--it is a catastrophe.

    As Gustav says, it's because in the days before cellphones and GPS, it was easy to get lost in the woods. European culture includes several fairy tales in which children become lost in the woods and bad things happen to them, including "Hänsel and Gretel," "Little Red Riding Hood" and "Goldilocks and the Three Bears."
  18. Saint Valued Senior Member

    a rash of = 1.A skin eruption.
    2.An outbreak of many instances within a brief period: a rash of burglaries.

    furlough = 1.A leave of absence or vacation, especially one granted to a member of the armed forces.
    2. A usually temporary layoff from work.
    3. A leave of absence from prison granted to a prisoner.
    4. The papers or documents authorizing a leave:
    What is the origin of this word? Usually people say layoff, firing, retrenchment, VSS, right?
  19. Saint Valued Senior Member

    a recent spate of big layoff = layoff in huge number of workers. spate = A sudden heavy fall of rain. (Downpour is a more usual word, right?

    jettison = 1. To cast overboard or off: a ship jettisoning wastes; a pilot jettisoning aircraft fuel.
    2. Informal To discard (something) as unwanted or burdensome: jettisoned the whole marketing plan.
    Here it means the workers are unwanted by banks and considered as a burden?
  20. Saint Valued Senior Member


    laggard = One that lags; a straggler. It means you are falling behind?
  21. Saint Valued Senior Member


    1.A noisy quarrel or fight.
    2.A loud party.
    A loud, roaring noise.

    1.To quarrel or fight noisily.
    2.To flow noisily, as water.

    Does it mean to quarrel and fight at the same time?
    Does it apply to the conflict between spouse?

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    Is its synonym :
    1.Heated, often violent dissension; bitter conflict.See Synonyms at discord
    2.A struggle, fight, or quarrel.
    3.Contention or competition between rivals.
    4. Archaic : Earnest endeavor or striving.
  22. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Yes. The second meaning evolved from the first. A skin rash starts out as one annoying isolated spot but quickly multiplies until it becomes a serious problem. One burglary is annoying, but a rash of burglaries may be a sign of organized crime.

    In some cases employees are granted furloughs at their request, for example to be home when a child is born. But in other cases the furloughs are involuntary, brought about by the employer's cash-flow problems. So in this case a rash of furloughs means that a large number of employees have been temporarily dismissed from work, earning no salary in the interim. This is, indeed, a serious problem.

    It's not the same thing. A furlough is temporary. It includes a promise to be brought back into the workforce and resume earning a salary. Often it has a formal schedule, such as returning to work as soon as a shipment of materials is received. Of course promises are sometimes broken and some furloughs become permanent terminations, but in terms of language usage, a furloughed employee is better off than one who has been fired (which usually implies not having performed satisfactorily) or laid off (which usually implies a permanent downturn in business, restructuring of the company, etc., so the employee's job no longer exists through no fault of his own--the British term for "lay off" is make redundant).

    You didn't analyze the sentence correctly. It's "a recent spate of big layoff announcements." The word "spate" implies a large number of things, so you expect the next noun to be either plural or a mass noun like "water." "Layoff" is singular in this sentence so it can't be the right one. "Announcements" is plural so we must be talking about a large number of layoff announcements.

    Yes, but the dictionary tries to use simple words. If they said "downpour" then they'd have to define that word.

    Furthermore, that definition of "spate" is British dialect. In America we don't use it that way; I had to look it up to understand what you were talking about. It was originally used with that meaning in Scotland and northern England, probably of French and/or Dutch origin. But in the USA it is a sudden outpouring of anything, even something nice like sympathy. Never water!


    Yes. In this case the banking and insurance sectors have been falling behind the other industries. That sentence was poorly worded: it should have said "falling behind them."

    This word originally meant "clamor" and referred more to the noise of an event than to its violence. But today the primary meaning of "brawl" is a loud, disorganized fight. The quintessential brawl is one in a bar late at night when everyone is drunk--or at a funeral where people who normally don't associate with each other are forced by custom to come together, and their mutual hatred results in a brawl.

    One common characteristic of brawls is that after a few minutes the men may not even remember what they're fighting about. They're just blowing off excess energy and venting their general anger at the universe.
    It's more physical than verbal.
    Between spouses. No, a brawl involves a large number of people, not just two.

    No. That's a very poor choice. Strife can go on for years. A brawl is usually over in 15-30 minutes.

    These phrases would help someone who had never encountered the word before understand its general meaning. But they are not good synonyms. A brawl is a fistfight, often eventually involving men hitting each other with chairs or other objects in the room.

    Like any other word it can be used metaphorically. So a journalist might write about a party turning into a brawl when it becomes loud and the crowd spills out into the street. But still he should be careful: most of us would probably assume that the party had become violent because members of two rival gangs showed up.

    This is the best definition. Yet still it does not emphasize the physical violence.

    I've never heard of that one. says it might be from a Dutch word meaning to boast or to behave aggressively.
  23. Saint Valued Senior Member

    If he killed with knife, do you call him knifeman?

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