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Old 04-08-2014, 04:39 PM   #51
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Originally Posted by Boxlicker101 View Post
When I was a youth, the common term was "feeble-minded." We weren't into PC back then.
That was the PC term back then. Before that they used Crazy as (insert comparative here).
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Old 04-08-2014, 04:53 PM   #52
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The problem with PC language, which is naturally well-intentioned, is that semantics cannot be controlled by edict. In the UK less able students were called Remedial for a while, which at the time was a neutral term. Other students quickly picked up on this, and to call someone a 'Rem' was a mortal insult.

Not learning this lesson, the PC brigade tried to choose an unambiguously positive term this time. 'Special Needs'. Everyone wants to be special, right? Well, trust me, when a 15 year old boy is shouting 'Are you Special or something?', as I used to see on a daily basis, you don't feel too privileged. Again, the word is left behind by the semantics ordinary users of English will attach to it.

Even words which aren't close to being adjectives fall to the same difficulty. At the last school I taught in, the most able students did three separate sciences. Slightly less able ones did joint sciences, worth two GCSEs. The less able still did a single science GCSE, and the very weakest did something called a BTEC, which was a vocational, practical science qualification without exams.

Within two months of this system being introduced, I would have students saying things like, "Sorry my essay's so BTEC, Sir, I ran out of time," or "Don't pay any attention to James, Sir, he's being a right BTEC today..."

Words and their meanings are perhaps the most democratic tool we have, and no government, however despotic, can quite control them.
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Old 04-08-2014, 05:09 PM   #53
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DesEsseintes View Post
The problem with PC language, which is naturally well-intentioned, is that semantics cannot be controlled by edict. In the UK less able students were called Remedial for a while, which at the time was a neutral term. Other students quickly picked up on this, and to call someone a 'Rem' was a mortal insult.

Not learning this lesson, the PC brigade tried to choose an unambiguously positive term this time. 'Special Needs'. Everyone wants to be special, right? Well, trust me, when a 15 year old boy is shouting 'Are you Special or something?', as I used to see on a daily basis, you don't feel too privileged. Again, the word is left behind by the semantics ordinary users of English will attach to it.

Even words which aren't close to being adjectives fall to the same difficulty. At the last school I taught in, the most able students did three separate sciences. Slightly less able ones did joint sciences, worth two GCSEs. The less able still did a single science GCSE, and the very weakest did something called a BTEC, which was a vocational, practical science qualification without exams.

Within two months of this system being introduced, I would have students saying things like, "Sorry my essay's so BTEC, Sir, I ran out of time," or "Don't pay any attention to James, Sir, he's being a right BTEC today..."

Words and their meanings are perhaps the most democratic tool we have, and no government, however despotic, can quite control them.
But the point that they try, by call it hate speech and associating a punishment sometime does, with disastrous results.

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Old 04-08-2014, 05:09 PM   #54
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Words and their meanings are perhaps the most democratic tool we have, and no government, however despotic, can quite control them.
I think this statement is double-plus true.
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Old 04-08-2014, 09:59 PM   #55
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An excellent example of what I was trying to say.
Except that in some cases, it's much more accurate a description than "feeble" or "retard." That's where that well-meaning "special needs" phrase comes in to play. It is misused and abused and turned into a pejorative, sure. But only by distorting the meaning of those two words.

And those needs are so rarely met adequately anyway... I wish I'd had a label for that personality quirk of mine that made people ask me if I was a retard. And I wish I'd known that there are work-arounds for much of it. I always thought it was some kind of moral and mental laziness-- I didn't know it was Aspergers syndrome.

*shrug*
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Old 04-09-2014, 02:06 AM   #56
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Originally Posted by AMoveableBeast View Post
I think this statement is double-plus true.

Ha! Touche - though I think that at least the world of 1984 is, just about and for the moment, still a fiction.
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Old 04-09-2014, 02:31 AM   #57
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Ha! Touche - though I think that at least the world of 1984 is, just about and for the moment, still a fiction.

FX < distant, ghostly laughter >
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Old 04-09-2014, 03:22 AM   #58
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Originally Posted by Stella_Omega View Post
Except that in some cases, it's much more accurate a description than "feeble" or "retard." That's where that well-meaning "special needs" phrase comes in to play. It is misused and abused and turned into a pejorative, sure. But only by distorting the meaning of those two words.

And those needs are so rarely met adequately anyway... I wish I'd had a label for that personality quirk of mine that made people ask me if I was a retard. And I wish I'd known that there are work-arounds for much of it. I always thought it was some kind of moral and mental laziness-- I didn't know it was Aspergers syndrome.

*shrug*
At one time, and maybe they still do, CA used the term "developmentally Disabled." Besides being a mouthful, the term is inaccurate, because most such people are not actually disabled. I usually say "retarded" and don't worry about it. I do not call anybody a retard though.
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Old 04-09-2014, 05:58 AM   #59
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Old 04-09-2014, 08:18 AM   #60
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On the other hand, when people misuse 'literally', for example, it means that we are losing a perfectly good word, since no other word quite expresses what literally does, when used properly. Such a misuse detracts from, rather than adds to, the rich complexity of our language.
I'm just catching up out here and enjoying this thread. And, like a few others, I am skeptical of "rules" but despair of sloppy language. We could spend hours contemplating Muhammad Ali's extraordinary (if perhaps apocryphal) anti-war declaration, "I ain't got nothing against them Viet Congs." Or Cormac McCarthy's endless wordplay in Blood Meridian.

But I liked this comment on the word "literally," a word that I tend to overuse. It always makes me think of one of the great openings in all literature: "Lily, the caretaker's daughter, was literally run off her feet." I think I'll finish my cup of tea and ponder this magnificence.
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Old 04-09-2014, 06:30 PM   #61
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How true.
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Old 04-09-2014, 06:50 PM   #62
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"Lily, the caretaker's daughter, was literally run off her feet."
Did anyone get a good look at the 300-pound jogger?
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Old 04-09-2014, 07:43 PM   #63
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... On the other hand, when people misuse 'literally', for example, it means that we are losing a perfectly good word, since no other word quite expresses what literally does, when used properly. Such a misuse detracts from, rather than adds to, the rich complexity of our language. ...
Would you please explain its proper use. I have avoided employing it in any of my stories for fear of misusing it.
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Old 04-09-2014, 09:38 PM   #64
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Would you please explain its proper use. I have avoided employing it in any of my stories for fear of misusing it.
"Literally" is the opposite of "figuratively," which is a figure of speech."
I jumped for joy." "He ate like a pig." "He swept her off her feet." That last one might be literally true if he was driving a street-sweeping vehicle and ran into her and knocked her down.

But sometimes people say things like "I literally froze to death." If that were the literal truth, that person would be dead and not complaining about the cold.
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Old 04-09-2014, 10:00 PM   #65
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I literally flushed my career down the toilet. Fortunately, it was a very small career, and didn't clog the plumbing.
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Old 04-09-2014, 11:23 PM   #66
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... But sometimes people say things like "I literally froze to death." If that were the literal truth, that person would be dead and not complaining about the cold.
Thanks. I think I understand now.
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Old 04-10-2014, 01:13 AM   #67
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And then there's "virtually."
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Old 04-10-2014, 03:45 AM   #68
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And then there's "virtually."
Are you familiar with gardening virtually? Most corporate gardens are virtual. As in, virtual memory (computerese). As in, the plants are rarely resident, but are swapped-out and -in as needed or desired. Then there is the Virtual Universe, also non-resident. I virtually exist; sometimes I'm here, sometimes not.
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Old 04-10-2014, 05:33 AM   #69
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I do not know the answer to the rest of your question, but her goes on "persons". People is a more genereric, collective useage. Persons speaks of the group, but as individuals. For example: "People of interest." has a much different meaning than, "Persons of interest."
Witnessess said that the crime had been committed by several people(persons) of different races.

Like you I cannot stand "cheap" writing, full of 'that's, 'and's, 'just's, 'still's, to name only a few.
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Old 04-10-2014, 04:52 PM   #70
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boxlicker101 View Post
"Literally" is the opposite of "figuratively," which is a figure of speech."
I jumped for joy." "He ate like a pig." "He swept her off her feet." That last one might be literally true if he was driving a street-sweeping vehicle and ran into her and knocked her down.

But sometimes people say things like "I literally froze to death." If that were the literal truth, that person would be dead and not complaining about the cold.
My head figuratively blows up when I read these misuses of "literally."

I suddenly discovered yesterday, that there really is a word "gruntled" and it is indeed the thing that is removed when someone is disgruntled.

This may be old news to some people here, if so forgive me
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Old 04-10-2014, 05:08 PM   #71
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Well, it's a back-formation from dis-gruntled, so it was a sort of joke word - I've only ever known it used humorously:

"I could see that, if not actually disgruntled, he was far from being gruntled."

(P.G. Wodehouse - master of the unhappy litotes. See also the classic "It is never difficult to distinguish between a Scotsman with a grievance and a ray of sunshine.")
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Old 04-10-2014, 08:27 PM   #72
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Your wish is my command.

The book is Our Marvelous Native Tongue: The Life and Times of the English Language by Robert Claiborne.
That's the one! Everybody, you should read this book. And the guy who wrote it used to play music with Pete Seeger. How cool is that?
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Old 04-10-2014, 08:39 PM   #73
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Well, it's a back-formation from dis-gruntled, so it was a sort of joke word - I've only ever known it used humorously:

"I could see that, if not actually disgruntled, he was far from being gruntled."

(P.G. Wodehouse - master of the unhappy litotes. See also the classic "It is never difficult to distinguish between a Scotsman with a grievance and a ray of sunshine.")
It was probably Bertie Wooster who said that.
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Old 04-11-2014, 12:20 PM   #74
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I have to say that I scanned a lot of the previous posts and so may be repeating others. Apologies, I have a limited time this morning and may not get back to lit before Monday.

I think the education system in the US has suffered a lot, and in addition TV and games have replaced reading for relaxation in young people. They don't get the examples of good usage that my generation had.

That problem gets worse as publishing is easier for E-books and publishing houses seem to have done away with editors - so now there are writers who don't use proper spelling meaning that those who do read get poor examples of spelling and grammar.

I think the worse examples - and I am not without blame - are words that sound alike or sound similar to other words with different meanings, such as:

To, too, two, sight site, there they're their, your you're, light lite, brake break, etc. My personal cross to bear is lose and loose. They sound differently but sadly my fingers have been known to add the extra 'o' when it shouldn't be there.

And I too am peeved by the 's used incorrectly, or the word 'like' used so much in speech.

But English is a living language and historically has changed faster than most other languages, I'm sure that there were many scholars in Elizabethan times who hated the 'eth' being replaced by 's' as in 'he runeth' changed to 'he runs'. (Or was it he doth run?) I think the 's' was a Danish influence that moved south and west from the former Danegeld areas. At least that's what I remember from school.
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Old 04-11-2014, 02:15 PM   #75
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publishing houses seem to have done away with editors
Not mainstream publishing houses. I are one. (and not the e-book publishers I use either.)
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