Help with English

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

  1. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    I've got a Mac Mini and it is an utter piece of crap. Every day I threaten to dump it in the trash. I never thought I'd see the day when I would actually prefer my Windows box to a Macintosh. (Yeah I know those are all made in China too.)

    I only buy dog food that contains NO Chinese ingredients.

    I used to buy my underwear from Wintersilk. Since they moved production to China their quality has gone down the toilet. The stuff doesn't fit right and it falls apart.

    Buy whatever you want but you're taking your chances.

    A lot of manufacturers are "re-shoring" to Mexico. Wages are higher there than in China, but they don't have to pay to ship it across an ocean. And because of that they can use more components made in America. If you buy something labeled "Made in China" it may have 5% American parts. If it says "Made in Mexico" it has an average of 40% American parts.
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  3. Saint Valued Senior Member

    hour of reckoning = hour of crisis?

    to level with = to lower down yourself to the level of your listener?
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  5. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    The Day of Reckoning is a religious term, equivalent to Judgment Day. In Abrahamist mythology--Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Rastafarian and (arguably) Baha'i--Judgment Day is the day when we are supposedly brought before God and required to explain all of our actions and decisions, and to fulfill all of our promises and obligations.

    In colloquial usage, the "day of reckoning" has come to mean simply a day when everything we've done finally catches up with us and we have to face the consequences. In secular life this generally means paying off a debt, fulfilling a promise, or catching up with something we know we have to do but keep putting off like cleaning the gutters at the start of the rainy season.

    The modern world operates at a much higher speed than the ancient world, so we now have an hour of reckoning instead of a whole day.

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    It's "lower yourself down," not "lower down yourself." Absolutely not. The adjective "level" means flat or even, and therefore fair, as in the common expression "a level playing field": one on which all teams or competitors have the same advantages and disadvantages.

    So to level with someone means to speak fairly and truthfully.

    You're not leveling with me about that "business conference" you said you went to last night. My friend Olga said she saw you on the other side of town with your old girlfriend.
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  7. Saint Valued Senior Member


    trash = To beat up; assault.

    outright disdain = despise very much

    fatter cats = rich people?

    rig = To manipulate dishonestly for personal gain: rig a prizefight; rig stock prices.

    "these Chicago guys" = why Chicago? Not W.D.C?
    op-ed = adj. Of or being a newspaper page, usually opposite the editorial page, that features signed articles expressing personal viewpoints.

    I just don't understand.

    yet = why use "yet" here? I seldom see yet following may in a sentence.
  8. Saint Valued Senior Member

    modestly vs. moderately = what's the difference?
  9. Saint Valued Senior Member

    1.Being within reasonable limits; not excessive or extreme:
    a moderate price.
    2.Not violent or subject to extremes; mild or calm; temperate:
    a moderate climate.
    3.Of medium or average quantity or extent.
    4.Of limited or average quality; mediocre.
    5.Opposed to radical or extreme views or measures, especially in politics or religion.

    1.Having or showing a moderate estimation of one's own talents, abilities, and value.
    2.Having or proceeding from a disinclination to call attention to oneself; retiring or diffident.See Synonyms at shy
    3.Observing conventional proprieties in speech, behavior, or dress.
    4.Free from showiness or ostentation; unpretentious.See Synonyms at plain
    5.Moderate or limited in size, quantity, or range; not extreme:
    a modest price; a newspaper with a modest circulation.

    Which definitions are the most commonly used in daily speech and writing?
    If I mess up modest and moderate, will it cause misunderstanding?
  10. Saint Valued Senior Member

    "You can read the news of US's presidential campaign on the net".

    Net can mean "internet" officially?
  11. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    The word is not usually used for physical attacks against people. If a rock band trashed a hotel room, they have left it filthy, littered with liquor bottles and used condoms, and perhaps with some damage, requiring extra work from the staff. If an industrial spy trashed your home, he was looking for blueprints, research papers, letters, etc., that his employer could use to compete with your company; he pulled all the clothes our of your drawers, scattered your food and dishes all over the kitchen floor, and opened up your medicine bottles and got the pills all mixed up; he may have made holes in the walls looking for hidden compartments, pulled your plants out of their pots to see if anything was hidden under them, even dug up your lawn and garden. If a journalist trashed a politician's reputation, she dug up things from his past that he didn't want people to know about--like Romney's humiliation of a gay student at his school when he was young, or Obama's fraternization with a Christian minister who held racist opinions.

    We also use the term "trash-talk," which is a less serious version of trashing. To trash-talk someone simply means to insult him, either to his face or to other people; the insults may not even be true.

    "Outright" means obvious and straightforward, not surreptitious. To say that America has outright disdain for the financial industry is to say that we do not trust its people or its institutions--not at all, and we're not bashful about saying so.

    A fat cat is a cat who is pampered by his owners, getting lots of extra food. Metaphorically, a fat cat is a person who is regarded as pampered by society or its leaders; specifically someone who is very wealthy and powerful, usually because of an inheritance or illicit business dealings rather than through honest hard work. The term is used most commonly for people of this type who can be counted on to contribute to a political campaign, in order to promote a candidate who will feel indebted to them, and craft laws that will help them become even wealthier and more powerful. The fatter cats are simply the fat cats who are even fatter than the regular fat cats; i.e. more wealth, privilege and influence.

    [We don't abbreviate "Washington, District of Columbia" as "W.D.C." It's "Washington DC." It took me a minute to figure out what you meant. And we leave out the "DC" as long as it's clear that we don't mean the state of Washington, whose most well-known city is Seattle.] I'm not sure why they chose Chicago because I'm not familiar with the subject of the article. They may be referring to Chicago because that's where Obama started his political career, so the guys there still help him. Or it could be a reference to Chicago's notoriety as the American center of organized crime, led by the famous gangster Al Capone in the 1920s. Obama is an outsider to Washington, without a strong network of allies here, so I wouldn't expect a journalist to write about strong support from "Washington guys." Jimmy Carter had the same problem when he was president, and it did him in. So did Ronald Reagan, but he overcame it. So did Richard Nixon, and in his attempt to overcome it, he ruined his career and his life.

    It's simply an abbreviation of "opinions and editorials." These days, the editorials and opinions are usually mixed. The difference is that the opinions are signed as the work of a single writer, whereas the editorials are not signed, and presented as the judgments of the newspaper itself and its executives.

    Campaign literature is literature prepared by the candidate's campaign staff and distributed to the voters to attempt to convince them to vote for him or her. In many U.S. states the citizens themselves are allowed to propose new laws (or to repeal existing laws), so there are also campaigns for and against these laws, and there is campaign literature for them too.

    A mom-and-pop business is a small one that is run by a family, with most or all of the workers also being family members or at least very close friends. Small family businesses are regarded with affection and nostalgia. They are contrasted with corporations, which are regarded as soulless and indifferent to the welfare of the citizenry.

    An executive washroom is the private bathroom/restroom/toilet/W.C./whatever-you-call-it attached to the office of an executive. It is for his personal use only, not available to the employees, and usually has luxuries and elegant fixtures that the employee restrooms don't have, for example, a bidet or cloth towels. An executive restroom (we don't usually call them "washrooms" in the USA; they're "bathrooms" at home and "restrooms" in public places) may also be simply the communal restroom on the upper floor of an office building where all the executives have their offices. They share it with each other but not with the general employees, and it may still have luxuries and elegant fixtures.

    To suggest putting campaign literature into mom-and-pop stores (we don't usually call them "shops" in America, that's British English; although we use the term in some specific cases such as a "pet shop" or a "doughnut shop") rather than into executive bathrooms is to suggest that the campaign should be directed at the common folk, not the aristocrats.

    Guillotine-bound French royalty--I enjoyed that one.

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    During the French Revolution many members of the ruling family were not simply thrown out of office, but executed. The guillotine had recently been invented so it was often used for this purpose. In fact the guillotine is associated with France and specifically with the revolution. To suggest that a group of wealthy aristocrats are "guillotine-bound," i.e. "bound for execution," means you think that their days of power will soon be over and they will not be simply removed from power but punished severely, if not actually executed. Again, the writer is saying that these are not the voters that the candidate needs to appeal to.

    One of the many meanings of the word yet is "until now, so far, heretofore, to date, up to this moment." So the writer suggests that this may be the most sensible strategy the candidate has devised up until now. He may come up with something better tomorrow. In other words, the writer thinks that there's no point in Obama trying to appeal to the wealthy capitalists because he believes they won't vote for him under any circumstances. He seems to feel that Romney is one of the guillotine-bound aristocrats too, so they'll all vote for him.

    If you go to see the new James Bond film later this year, you might walk out of the theater saying, "This is the best Bond movie yet."

    I sang Celine Dion's "The Power of Love" at karaoke last week, and my friends said it was my best song yet.
  12. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

    Interesting - I have no experience with Mac Mini. These are build quality issues you are having (as opposed to it being insufficiently powerful or the software being unstable)?

    But regardless, Apple has about as high an overall reputation for build quality as anybody, and they manufacture everything in China.

    Not by much, though.
  13. Saint Valued Senior Member



    ennui = ?
  14. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

    To "snooze" is to sleep. The suffix "-fest" refers to a party, as in "festival." Following the German term "Oktoberfest" (meaning, a party to celebrate October), a popular construction in English is to add "-fest" to the end of other words. So a "snoozefest" is an event that features lots of sleeping - typically this is a metaphor meaning something very boring. "The basic algebra class was a snoozefest."

    Another similar common usage is "slugfest." In this case, "slug" refers to the act of punching someone or something, so a "slugfest" refers to an intense confrontation, although not necessarily one that is literally physical ("the boxing match was a real slugfest!" or "the presidential debate was a real slugest!")

    "Ennui" basically means "boredom," but with the specific connotation of listlessness or dissatisfaction. For example, the type of dissatisfaction one feels when stuck in a job that does not use one's talents, for a long time.
  15. Saint Valued Senior Member

    Money, can be plural? Monies?
    I read that!
  16. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    But did you understand it?

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    "Money" is a mass noun like love, air and patriotism. You can't count "seven airs" or "twelve moneys."

    The only exception is in the financial industry. A banker, a corporate treasurer or a government official might say "moneys" to mean different categories of funds. For example, 1. Tax money that was collected from the general population to fund the schools versus 2. Fees collected from swimmers to pay for cleaning the pool versus 3. Assessments on homeowners to eliminate mosquitoes in a neighborhood near the river.

    You would never use this word in personal life. You don't say, "When I came home from my vacation in Latin America I had eleven different moneys in my wallet," referring to balboas, bolívares, bolivianos, colones, córdobas, dollars, guaranís, pesos, quetzales, reais and soles.

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    The word "money" comes via French from Latin moneta, a mint (the kind that manufactures bills and coins, not the kind you eat for dessert

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    ), named after Juno Moneta, one of the temples of the goddess Hera, where the Roman mint was located.

    The word "specie" is a mass noun sometimes used specifically for coins, to distinguish them from all other types of money. You will probably only see it in the phrase "pay in specie," which means to repay a debt with coins rather than bills, a check, an IOU, etc. These days that might be an insult, since even a small amount of money like twenty dollars is bulky and heavy if rendered in coins. We now have one-dollar coins in the USA but collectors keep taking them out of circulation so they are seldom encountered in normal business.

    The spelling "monies" arose in the 19th century as an irregular form of "moneys." Why it became prevalent is a mystery. The spelling "moneys" is still acceptable, although not preferred. Most editors would probably change it.
  17. Saint Valued Senior Member

    You haven't answered this.

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  18. Saint Valued Senior Member

    caught up to = ?

    in-line with = need "-" ?

    sting = like the sting of a bee?
  19. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

    "Caught up to" means equalled or matched. Its evokes a race where one participant is ahead, but the other runs faster and so catches up to the leader.

    "In line with" means to be matched to or aligned with. For example, if you get a new job that pays better, you will probably increase your spending in line with your increased income.

    Yeah, it refers to a certain type of painful sensation that is sharp, sudden and unpleasant.
  20. Saint Valued Senior Member

    fine tooth comb = ?

    red herring = 1.A smoked herring having a reddish color.
    2.Something that draws attention away from the central issue. Why is it this sense?
  21. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Sorry. The Linguistics board has been inundated with commercial spam so the cleanup has taken a lot of my time.

    Yes. This meaning is in common use. The adverbial form is also widely used, perhaps more than the adjectival form: A moderately useful tool. A moderately interesting movie. A moderately disgusting display of violence.

    I don't see any reason to list this separately. It's virtually identical to #1.

    Again, almost identical to the other two.

    Again, this is the same meaning; only the context has changed. If you want a cellphone to use in the city, one of moderate quality will be satisfactory. If you want to take it to Greenland and rely on it for emergency communication, the very same phone with the very same moderate quality would be considered mediocre. (Actually it would be considered unacceptable.

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    These days, at least in the USA, this may be the sense in which the word is most often used. Especially during election season when politics dominates public discourse.

    The religious sense of the word has also been common since 9/11. And even long before that. In 1979 Iran, one of our staunchest allies in the Middle East, turned against us, committed an act of war and seized our embassy in Tehran. This may have been the moment when religious fundamentalism was acknowledged as a major problem for the entire global civilization, and people began to distinguish extremists from moderates according to their religious beliefs and practices.

    This example illustrates the fact that "moderate" is also used as a noun: a moderate is a person with moderate views and/or attitudes.

    Notice that "modest" is a description of a person's general character. A modest person would do all of these things! "Moderate" refers to a single aspect--or a narrow range--of the attributes that comprise that character. A person may be moderate in his views on women's rights, racial discrimination, conservation of the environment, and many other important issues, but he could still be an extremist on the issue of immigration reform, or justice for the Palestinians, or decriminalization of recreational drugs. A modest person would not advocate those extreme positions except perhaps within his own family home or among his closest friends.

    If this refers to a person, it is similar to the previous definitions. However, it can also be applied to things, such as a modest home, one that is not as large and fancy as would be expected for an owner with a large income. Or a "modest car," a Chevrolet driven by a corporate executive who could afford a Maserati. We also say a man of modest means, meaning one who is not poor and can afford all of the things necessary for a comfortable life, but only the "modest" versions of those things. A family of modest means drives a Hyundai, lives in a small house in a working-class neighborhood, sends their children to a public school, shops at Costco, rents movies instead of going to the cinema, and takes vacations in places that are close enough to drive to and where hotels are not expensive.

    I'd be careful with this use of the word. These come perilously close to being figures of speech. If you talk about the modest fuel consumption of your car or the modest broadcast range of your cellphone, you might be the first person in your town to use the word that way.

    I hope I've given you some help with that. It's not an easy question to answer.

    Absolutely. And you mean mix up, not "mess up."
  22. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

    Well, generally that is true. But there are plenty of usages where "modest" and "moderate" are interchangeable.

    Like "I received a (modest/moderate) pay raise last year."
  23. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Sure. But when you're teaching non-native speakers, you have to be cautious. It's very difficult to teach the correct use of idioms because they vary from one example to the next with no rhyme or reason.

    And I don't know where you live but I don't think anyone along the Manhattan-Hollywood axis of broadcast-standard American English would say they got a moderate pay raise.

    I suppose a slavishly accurate answer to Saint's question would be "no," because indeed no one would misunderstand him if he said it that way. But I'm trying to teach him to copy the vernacular of native speakers, not just to get by and be regarded affectionately as "that clever foreigner who speaks our language pretty decently."

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