Help with English

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

  1. Saint Valued Senior Member

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    fell shy of = fell short of?

    Fresh off = ? Why not using gerund = freshing off?
     
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  3. Saint Valued Senior Member

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    Ahoy = interj.Nautical Used to hail a ship or person or to attract attention. Is it used correctly here?
     
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  5. Saint Valued Senior Member

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    What is that? Greyhound?
     
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  7. Saint Valued Senior Member

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    "a bet the farm move" = means what?

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  8. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    I've never heard a slang word for that. Prostitutes are fairly easy to find in most big cities, so a man would not have to look very hard.

    "Shy" is often used to mean "not quite." So to "fall shy" of a goal means that you just barely missed it. The rainfall last month was just shy of a record for September.

    Because it's an adjective, not a verb. Fresh means "just picked" (a fruit), "just laid" (an egg), "just baked" (a loaf of bread), etc. So it's been extended to mean anything that has just been created, found, or renovated. "Fresh off the press"--this morning's newspaper. "Fresh off the boat" (abbreviated F.O.B.)--an immigrant who just arrived and knows nothing about life in our country. So "fresh off... a reveal" means that the product was announced recently and it is just now (today, or this morning, or maybe five minutes ago) available for sale.

    Besides, "fresh" is not a verb: the verb is "to freshen."

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    Everyone understands the more common terms of nautical slang so we occasionally toss them around for variety. E.g., "loaded to the gunwales (pronounced gunnels)" refers to a ship that carries so much cargo that the gunwales (the openings for the cannon barrels) are just barely above the water line and it might sink in a heavy storm; so to say that about a truck, a shopping basket, etc., means that it is heavily loaded and could easily topple over.

    So to use "ahoy" as a greeting would be understood immediately. However, it's uncommon and anyone who says that is probably a sailor (professional or hobbyist), or pretending to be one.

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    The greyhound is a breed of sighthound (also called "gazehounds" although I've never encountered that word myself) commonly raised and trained for racing.

    Dog racing is a brutal business. When the dogs become too old to win any more races, the owners almost always have them euthanized. There is a huge movement in the USA to stop this practice, and many organizations exist which collect the retired dogs and find new homes for them. Greyhounds actually make extremely good pets (they don't need their own racetrack to exercise on every day

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    ) so this movement has been quite successful.

    So to point out that someone has a retired greyhound is to imply that they are very kind and charitable.

    Sighthounds were developed in the Middle East thousands of years ago and include the whippet, the Afghan, the saluki, the borzoi (formerely called the Russian wolfhound) and various related breeds. They are so named because they track their prey by sight rather than scent. Most dogs have terrible vision and could not easily do this. By human standards even "keen-eyed" breeds like poodles and retrievers are very close to "legally blind." Lhasa Apsos can barely see at all and might as well carry a white cane (mine trip over their own toys), but they use their excellent hearing more than their sense of smell--the reason they're commonly used as watchdogs.
     
  9. Neverfly Banned Banned

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    Man looking for a prostitute: A Trick or a John.
    "She was turning tricks on the corner."
     
  10. elte Valued Senior Member

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    It means to gamble everything, often because the bettor has feelings of confidence or desperation. It's an all or nothing type of gambling move.
     
  11. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Thats what hookers call their customers, but it's not what anyone else calls a man who is looking for a hooker. ("Normal guy" comes to mind--just kidding.

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    ) She might refer to a man who is a regular customer as a John, but a trick is the guy who just came in or who just finished and left, or maybe "remember that weird trick you had last week, the guy in the Lone Ranger costume who never took his mask off? Well he's back. At least I think it's the same guy.

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    "

    It's also slang for the act itself (as you noted, "turning tricks"), and in earlier generations was used for other occupations, such as a railroad engineer's trick in the cab of the locomotive.
     
  12. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Not long ago (the early 1800s) most people were farmers (we won't talk about the millions of slaves) because pre-industrial food production technology was not very efficient. So in many places, for the majority of the population, their farm was their major possession. The Wild West or "frontier" (the western United States, a region that changed shape, size and location over the decades) was one of those places. Government services were spread thin and people relied on themselves and each other to enforce contracts and adjudicate disputes--often with guns.

    If a man was in a poker game and had a hand he knew (or in many cases merely assumed) would win, like a royal flush (A-K-Q-J-10 of the same suit, which even beats five of a kind in a game with wild cards), he might "bet the farm," meaning that all the other players had a right to consider his farm as in "the pot." They could legally enforce that if he lost the wager, and the winner would now own his farm.

    The phrase is now used hyperbolically to mean any ridiculously large wager that would bring great profit if the bettor wins, but would be a major setback if he loses. And it's used metaphorically, as in this example. The company is "betting the farm" on a new business strategy which would bring in nice profits if it succeeds but will greatly reduce its income if it fails.
     
  13. Saint Valued Senior Member

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    inexorable:
    adj.
    1.Not capable of being persuaded by entreaty; relentless:
    an inexorable opponent; a feeling of inexorable doom. See Synonyms at inflexible

    I have an inexorable will to make my first million by the age of 40.

    Ok?
     
  14. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    I've never seen "inexorable" used to describe a person, although the example of "an inexorable creditor" seems fair enough: a bill collector for the Mafia who will track you to Greenland, break down your door, kill your trained tiger, and drag you back to Nevada in order to make you pay off a gambling debt. But we usually use it to describe something natural, like the inexorable expansion of the sun as it turns into a red dwarf in a few billion years, or a condition or process that is so well established that it can't be changed, like the inexorable stomach aches that follow a Thanksgiving dinner where everybody eats too much.

    "Inexorable" means 100% certain, like the setting of the sun. Your death is inexorable. Your ability to earn a million dollars (or yuan or deutschemarken) is not.
     
  15. Saint Valued Senior Member

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    heavy hitters = VIP ?
    divvied up = divided? I seldom see people using this word.
     
  16. Saint Valued Senior Member

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    pretentious charade = travesty?
     
  17. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    It's a baseball term. A heavy hitter is a batter who hits the ball powerfully, so he not only gets to first base, but beyond (these are "extra-base hits" in baseball jargon). A heavy hitter is a real asset to the team, helping them make more runs. So in vernacular use, a heavy hitter is a powerful person whose influence, reputation, etc., are useful to his organization or community.

    A VIP is a "very important person," so the two terms are similar. A powerful person is automatically important. But when I read "heavy hitter" I focus on his power and wonder what he's going to do. When I read "VIP" I focus on his stature and wonder what he's going to say.

    "Divvy" is a slang word formed from "divide," "division," "dividend," etc. It means "to divide" and in modern times it is almost always used with "up." It was originally used in very informal contexts such as crime (Let's divvy up the loot and scram) or childhood (You didn't divvy up the cake right; my piece is too small). It's still considered slang, so to use it in a news report on the financial page is rather odd.

    Charades is a party game in which speaking is not allowed. The player is given a word, phrase, title, etc., and has to pantomime a scene or scenes, from which the other players try to guess the meaning. For example, placing a sheet of paper on your hand and blowing it off might be a reference to the famous book/movie title "Gone with the Wind."

    So the word has come to be used to mean pretense in any sense, and used this way it can mean speech as well as action. "The company president's inspirational speech about next quarter's profits was a charade. We actually have no new products on the drawing board."

    So "pretentious charade" is redundant: all charades are pretentious. Perhaps the writer is trying to say that this charade is particularly pretentious, but a better writer would have said it differently, for example, "blatant charade."

    I don't quite understand the passage quoted. It is generally agreed by both Christian and non-Christian scholars that the Testimonium Flavianum is a forgery. But it is also agreed (if perhaps by a smaller majority) that the rest of Josephus's writings about Jesus are authentic and therefore comprise (probably the only) evidence of Jesus as a real historical person.
     
  18. Saint Valued Senior Member

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    From A to Z, without considering hyphenation,
    theoretically how many words can be formed in English?
     
  19. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    There's no limit to the length of a word in English, therefore there is no limit to the number of words.

    According to Wikipedia:
    • The longest word in Shakespeare's works has 27 letters: Honorificabilitudinitatibus. The state of being able to achieve honors.
    • The longest word that is not technical and was not deliberately coined has 28 letters: Antidisestablishmentarianism. A 19th-century political movement opposed to removing the Anglican church as the official church of the United Kingdom. (Apparently this effort was successful.

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      )
    • The longest word that is not technical and whose validity has not been challenged has 29 letters: Floccinaucinihilipilification. The habit of describing things as unimportant or worthless.
    • The longest word in a major dictionary that is not coined (but is technical) has 30 letters: Pseudopseudohypoparathyroidism. A congenital medical condition similar to pseudohypoparathyroidism. (Which, in turn, must be similar to hypoparathryroidism.

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      )
    • The longest word that was deliberately coined, but is well-known and accepted by all, has 34 letters: Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Atoning for educability through delicate beauty. (The title of a song from the musical comedy "Mary Poppins.")
    • The longest word that was deliberately coined to be the longest word, but is in a major dictionary, has 45 letters: Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis. An invented synonym for silicosis.
    • The longest word that has appeared in a work of literature, and was deliberately coined by a major author, but is not in any dictionary, has 183 letters: Lopadotemachoselachogaleokranioleipsano . . . pterygon. A dish compounded of all kinds of dainties, fish, flesh, fowl, and sauces. (Wikipedia displays the entire word. Go to the article "Longest Word in English" for the link.)
    • The longest published word, which is technical, has 1,909 letters: Methionylglutaminylarginyltyrosylglutamyl . . . serine. (Definition and full spelling not supplied.)
    • It's difficult to find the longest unpublished word for obvious reasons. This one is technical and not universally accepted as a word, with 189,819 letters: Methionylthreonylthreonylglutaminylarginyl . . . isoleucine. The largest known protein. (Full spelling not supplied.)
    So if words can have hundreds of thousands of letters, you can see that there's no limit on their number.

    I've read that both English and Chinese have around 100,000 words that are accepted as real words. I would suspect that this is the world record, but I'd want to examine French and German before being certain of that. The Chinese "words" are monosyllables, each of which has its own unique han zi character, but since there are only 1,600 unique syllables in Mandarin, this makes for a lot of homonyms. It's not easy to define a "word" in Chinese, since compounding is routine and they don't use hyphens--probably because a hyphen would look just like the numeral "1"

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    .
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2012
  20. Saint Valued Senior Member

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    If we limit the longest word to 15 letters,
    how many words can we form from A to Z?
     
  21. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Since we borrow so many foreign words that don't conform to English phonetics, then theoretically all letter combinations are possible. So it becomes merely a mathematical problem: 26^15, 26 to the 15th power.

    If you want to rule out all ridiculous combinations like aaaaaaaaaaaaaaa and qxzjqxzjqxzjqxz, then you'll have to decide what's ridiculous. 40 years ago we would have said that QI ("physical life force") is ridiculous. Now it's in the dictionary, and 3/4 of Americans have no idea how to pronounce it: "chee" (the best we can do in English). That's the Pin-Yin transcription of the Mandarin word we used to write as CH'I in Wade-Giles.

    And of course this raises the issue that apostrophes are allowed in English spelling. Cant and can't are two different words. So are ill and I'll. Hmm. Does this also mean that capital letters are different from lower case letters? The dictionary lists Japan and japan (a type of varnish) as two different words.
     
  22. Saint Valued Senior Member

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    gripe = complaint?

    vibe = vibration?
     
  23. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Yes, but it implies informality, impoliteness, annoying repetition. To gripe means to nag, to complain constantly. So the noun, "a gripe," means more than a complaint. It's a rude, nagging, repetitive complaint. "You've been griping about the dirty bathroom for a week. Why the hell don't you clean it, then? I've got a job but you stay home all day drinking beer and watching football."

    Yes, but only in the slang sense that arose in the counterculture of the 1960s. We talked about getting good vibrations from people who were kind, wise, helpful, etc., and bad vibrations from people, institutions, objects or ideas that were unkind, stupid, hostile, violent, etc. The Beach Boys made a very popular song called "Good Vibrations," about a sweet, sexy lady. "I'm picking up good vibrations/She's giving me excitations."

    Soon it was shortened to "vibe," and this version of the word is only used in the slang sense. You'd never say, "I think my wheels need balancing; I feel a vibe in the car." It is no longer restricted to a "good vibe" or a "bad vibe," and often is simply a synonym for "sense." -- I get a faint vibe of nostalgia from this TV show. It doesn't feel like the 21st century. -- At this morning's staff meeting, did you feel a scary vibe that we may lose the Air Force contract?

    I'm not sure what the professionals in the U.S. financial industry were trying to say. ("Wall Street" is a metonym, the name of a location used to mean the people, institution, activity, etc., that takes place there. Like "Washington" to mean the U.S. government and "Bangalore" to mean the Indian information technology industry.) I assume they were talking about getting a "vibe" from Obama indicating that he's not a friend of the finance industry, the way Romney is. Romney is in fact a member of that industry, surely one of the major reasons he lost the election. During a bad economy, everybody hates bankers.
     

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