Archive for the ‘Some Notes on Language’ Category

English as she is rote

There is a particular kind of English common on the Net, in which every possible homophone error is perpetrated. To my consternation, I have observed myself making these mistakes too, though generally only in e-mail. I generally see them when I read through and edit. The greatest single affliction of the language in the 21st […]

Posted on July 5, 2011 at 11:00 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink · 5 Comments
In: CULTURAL ODDS AND ENDS, Some Notes on Language

Billy Gates and the Spellcheck of Doom

Why then do people make this fatal assumption, that the spellchecker is always right? Some will be non-native speakers, who honestly think that when Spellcheck challenges them, it is their own word that must be wrong. In reality, Spellcheck will very frequently challenge a correctly spelled word and suggest the same word spelled incorrectly, or […]

Posted on July 6, 2011 at 11:03 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink · 9 Comments
In: CULTURAL ODDS AND ENDS, Some Notes on Language

Vocabulary down the Memory Hole

If Spellcheck makes everyone write about the Mongol Hoard, and books and PC games are produced using this spelling, and both foreigners and the younger generation are quite honestly and innocently induced to believe by the overwhelming preponderance of this phrase that Mongol Hoard is in fact correct, what follows? Answer, the word ‘horde’ would […]

Parallel vocabularies

I am given to understand that one of the reasons why Japanese is so hard for a foreigner to master is that the vocabulary is so heavily modulated by social class and relative status. English, however, possesses some differential terminology too: certain adjectives can only be applied when various criteria are met. For example, ‘auburn’ […]

Of elves and men

‘The Lord of the Rings’ and other works of ‘high fantasy’ have been translated into many languages, and for all I know this may include those written in the quite numerous alphabets that do not possess capital letters. What then happens to the technique whereby English marks linguistic register – and triggers memes – by […]

Left on, man

The reason why we talk about Right and Left in politics is said to be because one bunch of people sat on the one side in the first French National Assembly, and another sat on the other side. Very well, but what if any relationship does this have to the bias in many European languages? […]

Hardwiring and the imperative mood

People have commented that the best way to make a waiter drop a pile of plates is to keep saying, ‘Whatever you do, don’t drop them!’ This may be because talking about dropping them puts the idea at the forefront of his mind, and whatever is at the forefront of the mind tends to get […]

Posted on July 11, 2011 at 10:50 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink · One Comment
In: CULTURAL ODDS AND ENDS, Some Notes on Language

Hardwiring and the imperative mood

People have commented that the best way to make a waiter drop a pile of plates is to keep saying, ‘Whatever you do, don’t drop them!’ This may be because talking about dropping them puts the idea at the forefront of his mind, and whatever is at the forefront of the mind tends to get […]