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May 27[edit]


Has anyone ever encountered "untruism" used with the meaning "untrue truism" (i.e. something that people commonly believe but is in fact untrue, an untruth that is commonly believed to be true) as opposed to just "untruth" as defined by the Wiktionary article? It seems (to me at least) that the Anthony Trollope 1878 quotation is more compatible with that meaning rather than with that of "untruth". Contact Basemetal here 14:06, 27 May 2015 (UTC)

There is a word for such a concept. It is called a misconception. --Jayron32 14:38, 27 May 2015 (UTC)
I found a 1972 article, "Untruisms", published in Metaphilosophy, where the authors Barnes and Robinson define it as "an ambiguous sentence which taken in one sense states a dull truism—an analytical or a platitudinous truth—and taken in another sense makes a statement that is interesting but either certainly or probably false or at least of uncertain truth-value. Sincere utterers of untruisms suppose themselves to be making a true and interesting statement: in fact they are hovering between a true and trifling statement and a false and informative statement." The authors, too, quote Trollope, in the sense of "hackneyed untruth". ---Sluzzelin talk 15:39, 27 May 2015 (UTC)
I enjoy Jenny Holzer's "truisms". Such as this, or this, or this. I'm not 100% sure that each of those are from her "truism" series. Bus stop (talk) 22:33, 27 May 2015 (UTC)
Girl: "We were just playing Jenny Holzer."
Cat: "I hate art."
Back from when the webcomic Cat and Girl was still witty and funny.
Pete AU aka --Shirt58 (talk) 10:57, 28 May 2015 (UTC)


  1. A physical and spiritual form – I can define this to a demon/Angel/ghost…
  2. A physical and ‘soul’ (‘soulotuol’) form. – I am wishing to define a human being. What can I put their when I’m talking about a human, instead of the embolden words? I know the word ‘soulotuol’ doesn’t make sense and it is not in the Dictionary, it’s just an example for a better understanding. I want the sentence to sound as good as the 'first number'. e.g., physical and spiritual, physical and soulotual...

Mr. Prophet (talk) 18:35, 27 May 2015 (UTC)

spiritual can also refer to the soul, so you might wish to choose a different word there, if you want an unambiguous distinction between beings within the biological world (no matter what else we attribute to these beings, such as a soul, they still exist in the scientific world) and beings that only exist in fantasy/mythology/religion/fiction. Some suggestions, not the greatest ones, but just to get things started : psychical/psychic, conscious, animate, breathing ... all ambiguous too ... ---Sluzzelin talk 19:21, 27 May 2015 (UTC)
I'll give you an example in short i.e., I understand the words you defined because I read the articles. -- Mr. Prophet (talk) 07:18, 28 May 2015 (UTC)
Demons, angels, and ghosts have a "spiritual" dimension in common with human beings. Granted that human beings' spiritual dimension is considered different from those other constructs' in some religious traditions, though in some religious traditions, ghosts may also have souls. What human beings have and those other constructs lack is biological, or natural life. So you might contrast beings with supernatural and spiritual form (your demons, angels, and ghosts) and beings with natural and spiritual form (human beings, and perhaps other living things if you think that they have a spiritual dimension). We don't have an attributive adjective related to the word soul, but you can use this distinction instead. Or, you could contrast "beings with souls" and "beings without souls". Marco polo (talk) 20:38, 27 May 2015 (UTC)
Sad.png I have to say I'm not happy with the word 'natural' and I hope it is not the only way to explain it in short, like you stated... -- Mr. Prophet (talk) 07:18, 28 May 2015 (UTC)
Marco polo: I forgot to say 'thank you'. Face-smile.svg -- Mr. Prophet (talk) 18:28, 28 May 2015 (UTC)
  • The simple answer to's question is that consciousness is a relationship between sentient beings and their environment, and that the soul or "spritual" is that part of consciousness which values, as exemplified in such things as affection, art, and romance. Galt's speech in Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged covers this in depth. μηδείς (talk) 21:33, 27 May 2015 (UTC)
I'm looking for a simple word Medeis. If I insert what you stated than I have to explain why... Any way this is for you <-@ 💕 Face-grin.svg -- Mr. Prophet (talk) 07:18, 28 May 2015 (UTC)
What is the question here? Why can't the question be asked in sentence form, with a question mark at the end? Bus stop (talk) 22:22, 27 May 2015 (UTC)
The question is there, in sentence form and ending with a question mark, and goes (redacted): "What can I put there when I’m talking about a human, instead of the bolded words?" In other words (aka Mr. Prophet) is asking for an adjective pertaining to the human soul in a way that would fit his framework of contrasting the two types of beings he outlined. And I think Marco answered it really well, also by suggesting different sets of attributes. ---Sluzzelin talk 22:37, 27 May 2015 (UTC)
I don't understand. The word "spiritual" is found to be deficient. Why? What would be the problem with a relatively simple statement such as: "Man has a physical component and man has a spiritual component"? Bus stop (talk) 23:04, 27 May 2015 (UTC)
Nothing is wrong with that statement (that was my point) but then the word "spiritual" wouldn't be contrasting with "spiritual" in the supernatural sense ("demon/Angel/ghost") which is what the question was based on. ---Sluzzelin talk 23:08, 27 May 2015 (UTC)
Lol. Clever girl. 💘 This is for you <-@ Smile-tpvgames.gif -- Mr. Prophet (talk) 07:18, 28 May 2015 (UTC)
Historically, the distinction between spirit and soul, or pneuma and psyche, was that the spirit was the person's lifeforce while the soul was the consciousness (or identity). Many theologians and occultists generally held that angels and demons do not have proper souls, angels being more defined by their purpose, and demons by their wickedness. A few might have argued that (at least for angels) it was the other way around -- angels only have an identity as God's messengers, but no existence beyond God's will. Some authors held that ghosts were not the person's soul, but their spirit retaining some of the soul's shape before disappating (perhaps to be reused in whole or in part, in the latter case helping or hurting the next person to use that lifeforce). Ian.thomson (talk) 23:23, 27 May 2015 (UTC)
Yeah I know, I read the articles. just thinking of it as generally, cause not every one has the time (or will be bothered) to read an article to understand a thing, you know what I mean.
I wasn't aware of "spirit retaining some of the soul's shape before disappating"; I would've thought this for both... -- Mr. Prophet (talk) 07:18, 28 May 2015 (UTC)
My spirit is about to bust. Why not just search the English language to find the word combination to express the elusive thought? Bus stop (talk) 08:16, 28 May 2015 (UTC)
The closest I've got to this is "etheric" or "ketheric". I offer these so the OP can investigate further. --TammyMoet (talk) 11:17, 28 May 2015 (UTC)
I read [1] and [2], I can't find the word ketheric. Beside, I won't understand if you don't explain. I'm not 'very' smart. It took me a whole month (or two) to understand the two articles soul & spirit. -- Mr. Prophet (talk) 18:28, 28 May 2015 (UTC)
Incorporeal? That article also mentions the word "uncarnate". At ghost we find spectre/specter, phantom, apparition and spook. Bus stop (talk) 19:43, 28 May 2015 (UTC)
I've thought of them also used some in other areas. Thank you. I appreciate it. Face-smile.svg

Thanks friends. I'll conclude it with Mark's information. Regards. Face-smile.svg -- Mr. Prophet (talk) 20:05, 29 May 2015 (UTC)

Mr Prophet, I am assuming you have access to Google. A Google search led me to those two terms and I note there are plenty of articles on them, as I read a few to try and determine whether they were relevant. If you don't have access to Google, I'm very sorry. --TammyMoet (talk) 10:42, 29 May 2015 (UTC)
I have internet usage problem, it takes time to display a page 'heavy' page. I can just about download somethings blindly. Beside, I have to look at it some other time, hopefully in the first week of next month. -- Mr. Prophet (talk) 20:05, 29 May 2015 (UTC)
I forgot to state, referencing other website also becomes an issue sometimes. -- Mr. Prophet (talk) 18:16, 30 May 2015 (UTC)


May 28[edit]

Pronunciation of <ye> letter in Korean[edit]

I have noticed that in Korean, the <ye> letter is sometimes pronounced like /e/ (losing the /y/ sound). Are there any general rules as to when this may occur? (talk) 04:39, 28 May 2015 (UTC)

The syllable 혜 in a feminine name is pronounced as 해. Also, the y in ye is pronounced strongly at the start of a word, but it can become weaker or disappear if it comes after a consonant or in the middle of a word. This depends a lot on the speaker's dialect [1]. --Amble (talk) 15:26, 28 May 2015 (UTC)

alike and similar[edit]

Do we have an article on Norman-and-Saxon legal twin phrases like devise and bequeath? —Tamfang (talk) 08:24, 28 May 2015 (UTC)

Legal doublet covers many of them. -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 08:31, 28 May 2015 (UTC)
In fact, Tamfang's example is listed as part of a legal triplet there: "give, devise and bequeath" ---Sluzzelin talk 11:00, 28 May 2015 (UTC)


I'm reading Kipling's Just So Stories at the moment and can't place a conspicuous mannerism that crops up in just about every story, technically speaking an apheresis: there is a a small 'Stute Fish, the Camel is most 'scruciating idle, and the Hartebeest were 'sclusively sandy-yellow-brownish all over, etc. I'm not a native speaker, so I may be missing an obvious point, but what's the story here? Is he parodying anyone in particular? Or mocking American English? --Edith Wahr (talk) 17:09, 28 May 2015 (UTC)

The Oxford Companion to the English Language under "aphesis" says "Younger children often speak aphetically, a style that Rudyard Kipling imitates in Just So Stories [...]" -- BenRG (talk) 19:54, 28 May 2015 (UTC)
Not mentioned in our rather thin article, is that the stories are written in the style that he would have used in telling them to his daughter Josephine, who had died three years before publication, aged seven. Josephine is the "best beloved" repeatedly referred to in the text. So it is an imitation of his lost daughter's style of speech. See Rudyard Kipling’s ‘Just So Stories’, Biographical Sketch of Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) and Josephine Kipling for further details. Kipling's wife was American by the way. Alansplodge (talk) 21:09, 28 May 2015 (UTC)
  • I thought that one of Ben and Edith had made a spelling error, but it turns out that "aphesis" and "apheresis" are both recognised, and mean the same thing. What's going on there? It almost looks like "aphesis" is an example of apheresis. -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 21:20, 28 May 2015 (UTC)
  • The third edition of Fowler's Modern English Usage says of aphesis "J. A. H. Murray's term for 'the gradual and unintentional loss of a short unaccented vowel at the beginning of a word; as in squire for esquire, down for adown... It is a special form of the phonetic process called Aphæresis for which, from its frequency in the history of the English language, a distinctive term is useful. Now also used in the sense of aphæresis'" DuncanHill (talk) 21:43, 28 May 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for that, Duncan. -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 04:01, 29 May 2015 (UTC)
I prefer 'phesis or 'pheresis. Also epenethesis, oprothesis, paragoget, and methatesis. Lesgles (talk) 20:48, 2 June 2015 (UTC)

May 29[edit]

Are the verbs "to ascertain" and "to determine" complete synonyms?[edit]

Are the verbs "to ascertain" and "to determine" complete synonyms (used in the sense of seeking and discovering something - I know that "to determine" can also mean to cause something to happen in a particular way)? Often things which are almost synonyms have some subtle shade of meaning, is that the case here? -- Q Chris (talk) 14:15, 29 May 2015 (UTC)

"To determine" can also mean "to bring to an end", from Latin de of, from and terminare to finish. (talk) 14:46, 29 May 2015 (UTC)
IMHO there is a subtle semantic difference: "acertain" is to discover external/objective information, while "determine" could mean to declare/define something. "The court, having acertained that the accused was not at the bank at the time of the robbery, determined that all charges were to be dropped." Roger (Dodger67) (talk) 16:53, 29 May 2015 (UTC)
I think the OP is asking about the difference between ascertain and sense 4 (only) of determine. ―Mandruss  17:01, 29 May 2015 (UTC)
Even so, User:Mandruss, to avoid possible ambiguity when writing for a readership that nowadays is increasingly likely to include non-native speakers, it's advisable to choose the word with fewer alternate definitions, thus minimizing the risk of a misreading. -- Deborahjay (talk) 08:38, 1 June 2015 (UTC)
@Deborahjay: I don't necessarily disagree with you on that point. But the OP didn't say anything to indicate they are talking about Wikipedia editing, and, in fact, most of the questions at the Reference Desks are unrelated to Wikipedia.
Anyway, and just because I can't resist a good conversation, I'm not convinced it serves non-native speakers to insulate them from common native English usage. Sense 4 of "determine" isn't going away any time soon, so the non-native speaker is going to be exposed to it somewhere, whether at Wikipedia or elsewhere. ―Mandruss  08:48, 1 June 2015 (UTC)
How about an answer to the OP's question? Yes, as far as I am concerned they are exact synonyms. "Establish" is also synonymous. --Viennese Waltz 09:14, 1 June 2015 (UTC)
Examples in the above discussion indicate that "ascertain" and "establish" work well as synonyms. I still contend that the use of "determine" would require careful wording of context so that it couldn't be misconstrued as having another of its transitive-verbal meanings, namely "to decide." -- Deborahjay (talk) 12:10, 1 June 2015 (UTC)

Haček in an American spelling bee?[edit]

I saw an article [2] which claimed that the Scripps National Spelling Bee used a sentence to provide context, "The priest, philosopher and reformer Jan Hus introduced the haček into Czech orthography." By their bolding I presume that haček was the word to be spelled.

What confuses me is that I don't recognize "haček" as an English word, because I don't see č as an English letter, because it has, well, a haček over it. I have no idea how you would say that letter in a spelling bee. I see Wiktionary lists wikt:hacek as an 'alternate spelling', though.

Anyway, I was kind of curious whether such strange letters have become valid in English spelling, or spelling competitions; or alternatively, whether they accept the stripping of any and all special marks and simply the recitation of the closest-looking English letter. Or did they use the alternate spelling as a loophole, and avoid such questions where one isn't present?

Incidentally, our article on č doesn't say how it is spelled out aloud. Wnt (talk) 14:55, 29 May 2015 (UTC)

Actually it's an English word. At least so think Oxford, Collins and MW. By the way, Hus did not invent háček but a dot above for Czech (nevertheless a dot as a diacritic had long existed before him).--Lüboslóv Yęzýkin (talk) 15:51, 29 May 2015 (UTC)
  • The haček itself is the little hat, caron, over the Latin letter. It also appears over other letters like s and z. The symbol 'č' is called 'cee haček' when said aloud. The letter is actually part of my family name. I've always considered it an English word in the way that salsa, haggis, and sigma are English words. I've also seen the word spelt haczek (the Polish spelling) when the č symbol itself was not available. μηδείς (talk) 18:42, 29 May 2015 (UTC)
  • If it's an English word, when will the makers of Scrabble be introducing the tile marked Č? Or, for that matter, the tiles marked Á, À, Â, Ä, Ǎ, Ă, Ā, Ã, Å, Ą, Æ, Ǣ, ........ Ź, Ż and Ž? And, more importantly, what will their letter values be, given that they're used rather less often than the diacritic-free versions? Or, to put it another way, how can an English word contain characters that are not recognised - anywhere - as part of the English alphabet and English language? -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 21:39, 29 May 2015 (UTC)
Garcon! μηδείς (talk) 22:02, 29 May 2015 (UTC)
... noun, plural garçons [gar-sawn] (Show IPA). French -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 23:49, 29 May 2015 (UTC)
I expected this response (hence my parenthetical comment), but, jalapeño, façade, naïve, and dejà vu are all perfectly english expressions, as are coöperate, and fiancée. We simply do without the symbols when practicality demands, yet the symbols still have English names. I am also sure the children are provided with the rules, whatever they are, and are coached in the contest; not swept off the streets and plopped in the beehive. The fact that some keyboards don't have certain symbols doesn't mean the symbols are in themselves problematic. The custom when you and I were young was for typists to add such symbols by hand when necessary. If English is limited to what 4th graders are expected to be able to parse, then Shakespeare isn't English either. μηδείς (talk) 05:28, 30 May 2015 (UTC)
I am all in favor of expanding the confines of the English language to include commonly used words written with non-English diacritical marks, including the six words mentioned above. That should be based on common understanding and widespread usage by literate English language writers. But those six words mentioned above are widely accepted and commonly rendered and understood in English with or without the diacritical marks. I do not believe that the "hacek" word has yet achieved that status. I would certainly have no idea at all what was meant if I encountered it in an English sentence lacking strong context, though I would have no problem whatsoever with the other six words mentioned, with or without the diacritics. So, language evolves and opinions may vary, but I do not at this time recognize "hacek" or "haček" as standard English at this time. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 05:50, 30 May 2015 (UTC)
Interestingly, the very names of the country and language whence the word originates, Czechoslovakia (as it was then) and Czech, are rendered in English using Polish (!) orthography, because Čechoslovakia would have had little or no chance of being understood or pronounced correctly. The haček would have been dropped, and the Cecho part would have been pronounced like "Setcho". So much for acceptance of hačeks in English. -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 07:51, 30 May 2015 (UTC)
I think Chekoslovakia would have been the likely outcome, Jack. But no such thing as Czechoslovakia existed before WWI, nor very long after the end of the Cold War. The haček was around quite a bit before that. μηδείς (talk) 20:24, 30 May 2015 (UTC)
I suppose an interesting case is "habañero", which is certainly not a word in any language other than English. Still, my feeling is that User:Medeis' test cases can be gone through and addressed in different ways. To begin with, coöperate and naïve are genuinely English spelling, though I would say archaic spelling; the article Diaeresis (diacritic) says that this notation is the only case of English terms with diacritical marks. Because of how diaresis is defined, there is never a doubt that it sits atop an English letter like o or i. As for "facade", "fiancee", and "deja vu", I would say that these words are or would be English when they lack diacritics and are not italicized, but foreign when those two things are done. (Though it's not very clear to me that deja vu is accepted as English the way facade is) Which leaves us with the pesky ñ - except in very old borrowings like "canyon" people don't really feel comfortable, for reasons I don't understand, with the idea of replacing it with "ny" or "ni", yet rarely can reproduce the letter in print or are minded to. And yet... I feel like these words aren't always italicized either. So that's the most interesting case of the six. Wnt (talk) 10:56, 30 May 2015 (UTC)
I have also seen diaresis used in words such as reëmergent, Wnt, which spellcheck is happy to take as reemergent, the latter looking like a term for a gent who reems. μηδείς (talk) 01:27, 31 May 2015 (UTC)
You also see role spelled with a circumflex, as in rôle. See here for example. --Jayron32 16:16, 30 May 2015 (UTC)
That, and début, première and various others bespeak confusion and/or snobbishness. Rôle, début, première et various al have all been absorbed into English to produce the very fine English words role, debut and premiere, which are written without diacritics. They are all available free of charge, and there is simply no case to use any French words or French orthography in an otherwise English-language text, unless the text is actually about how certain French words are the origin/source of English words (in which case the French words must be italicised). Or unless English simply has no word or expression of its own to call upon. For example, déja vu is clearly a French expression. It has been borrowed by English speakers because we have been too lazy or too unimaginative to develop one of our own. Just because it's widely used in English-language contexts does not mean it is an English expression. It remains French, and should be italicised in writing. Maybe one day it will be reborn as the English expression "deja vu" (without the acute é), but that hasn't happened yet. To consider it an English expression would be like considering перестройка an English word. Well, hardly. Not even its usual romanization, perestroika, is an English word. Acutes, graves, circumflexes and cedillas are just as foreign to English as Cyrillic, Greek, Hebrew, Armenian, Arabic, Chinese or Japanese script. -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 20:18, 30 May 2015 (UTC)
By the way, déjà vu also takes a diacritic on the "a" in French. One more reason to spell it "deja vu" in English... --Xuxl (talk) 14:49, 31 May 2015 (UTC)
Jack, Czech is actually the original Old Czech spelling. It's just Poles who retained the old digraph. I cannot confirm when the name entered English.--Lüboslóv Yęzýkin (talk) 13:45, 30 May 2015 (UTC)
Thanks. -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 20:18, 30 May 2015 (UTC)
To address Cullen and Jack above, yes, haček is a relatively rare word, used mainly by linguists in English, as well as ethnically and liturgically, typically by Slavs who use the Latin alphabet. I'd expect it to be marked as such in an English dictionary, given fewer than 1% of native English speakers are likely familiar with it (or with the term. Ultimately, what matters with the spelling bee is their rules and the words they defined as canonical. Learning the names of various accent marks is indeed a part of standard grade school education for native speakers. Reading poetry and Shakespeare requires understanding a markèd accent. Luckfully, never having been ruled by Napoleon, we English speakers don't feel the need to codify our speech before we just get on with it. μηδείς (talk) 20:24, 30 May 2015 (UTC)
French spelling was codified well before Napoléon, though. But his name is diacriticized (is that a word?) --Xuxl (talk) 14:52, 31 May 2015 (UTC)
England has been always too backward comparing to France, this why the English never came to the progressive idea of a language institution like l’Académie. (Joke.) --Lüboslóv Yęzýkin (talk) 18:36, 31 May 2015 (UTC)
Napoleon lost the right to use the accent at Waterloo, Xuxl. μηδείς (talk) 18:55, 2 June 2015 (UTC)

Are you supposed to type one space or two spaces, after a period?[edit]

Are you supposed to type one space or two, after a period? Does Wikipedia have an article on this topic? Thanks. Joseph A. Spadaro (talk) 15:42, 29 May 2015 (UTC)

It has a rather terrible article on it, called sentence spacing, in my opinion written with an agenda. --Trovatore (talk) 15:46, 29 May 2015 (UTC)
That's not the correct article, is it? Isn't that an article about the distinction between, say, single-spacing and double-spacing and triple-spacing, etc., lines of text? That refers to how much space there is vertically from one line to the next. I am asking about typing a single space (blank) character or two space (blank) characters after I type a period at the end of a sentence. Joseph A. Spadaro (talk) 16:32, 29 May 2015 (UTC)
That is the correct article. I'd have to read the whole of it to understand why it jumps from spacing the lines of text to the number of spaces between sentences, but for your purpose you can jump straight to the applicable sections #Digital age and #Controversy.—Ëzhiki (Igels Hérissonovich Ïzhakoff-Amursky) • (yo?); May 29, 2015; 16:44 (UTC)
OK, thanks. I'll check it out. Joseph A. Spadaro (talk) 18:14, 29 May 2015 (UTC)
For Wikipedia articles, see WP:MOS#Periods (full stops) and spaces and WP:MOS#Spaces following terminal punctuation.
Wavelength (talk) 15:49, 29 May 2015 (UTC)
Thanks. I'd like to read a "main space" article on the topic. Not a Wikipedia MOS (Manual of Style) guidebook. Joseph A. Spadaro (talk) 16:37, 29 May 2015 (UTC)
Wars have been fought over this exact subject. You'd do best to back out the way you came in, and pretend like you didn't ask. Otherwise, you're liable to get caught in the crossfire. --Jayron32 16:04, 29 May 2015 (UTC)
  • My mother was a professional typist, and was taught two spaces after a full stop at the end of a sentence. This is what I was taught in the Eighties, and what I do myself. Certain modern word processing program-programmers have decided we are too stupid to make this decision on our own, and they override or "correct" what the user does. μηδείς (talk) 18:48, 29 May 2015 (UTC)
When I first was taught to touch type in 1973, I was taught two spaces after a full stop and also after a colon. Then in 1983 I went to secretarial school, and we were still taught two spaces after a full stop. However, in 1993 I was teaching word processing in an FE college, and in the meantime the RSA had changed its standards to only one space after a full stop and a colon. (UK) --TammyMoet (talk) 21:36, 29 May 2015 (UTC)
Where I come from, the standard was 2. I never saw 1 until I started looking at Wikipedia. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 03:00, 30 May 2015 (UTC)
And I don't think I've ever heard about using two spaces before I read this thread. - Lindert (talk) 11:48, 30 May 2015 (UTC)
An actually answer is that it depends on which style guide you are using. Both MLA style and Chicago Style Manual prefer single. Mingmingla (talk) 16:07, 30 May 2015 (UTC)

Thanks, all. I later realized that my question wasn't particularly clear. I was not asking: "Are you supposed to type one space or two, after a period?" What I was asking was: "Does Wikipedia have an article on the topic of whether you are supposed to type one space or two after a period?" Sorry for the poorly phrased question. Thanks. Since this is such a "big deal", I thought that Wikipedia would have an article on it. That is, a specific article, dedicated to this exact topic / "controversy". Thanks. Joseph A. Spadaro (talk) 21:06, 30 May 2015 (UTC)

The two spaces might have been more of a thing when all we had was typewriter fonts. With better computer fonts, the two-space approach looks somewhat overkill. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 22:03, 30 May 2015 (UTC)
That does seem to be the story that you hear, but it makes no sense to me. The function of a period is to help you find breaks between sentences. As far as I can tell, a period and a single space works better for that in monospace fonts (the typewriter-style ones) than it does in proportional fonts (the more modern ones). In proportional fonts, the periods have a habit of cuddling up against the last letter of the sentence and kind of getting lost, so a wide space seems even more important.
There's a very nice solution for this in the typesetting package LaTeX (actually I think it's the same in plain TeX). In LaTeX, it will put a wide space after a terminal punctuation mark (period or question mark or exclamation mark). Exactly how wide that is depends on other exigencies (like what's necessary to keep the text right-justified) but in general it's wider than a full space, but not as wide as two spaces.
The best thing of all is that if you don't want the wide space in a particular spot (say, if the period ends an abbreviation rather than a sentence), you can easily suppress the wide space in that location. --Trovatore (talk) 22:24, 30 May 2015 (UTC)
Proportional or not, extra space after a sentence can help the reader tell whether the dot ends a sentence or an abbreviation. ("During my time in the U.K. I made a driving blunder or two.") — My last typewriter had a half-space key, so I used a space and a half between sentences. —Tamfang (talk) 06:12, 1 June 2015 (UTC)
But you should not be writing "U.K." anyway, you should be writing "UK". --Viennese Waltz 07:33, 1 June 2015 (UTC)
As a general rule, Americans are more likely to use abbreviations with periods, Brits without. I have actually been drifting towards the British style, partly because it's just easier to type, but also, Tamfang is right: If you use a single space after terminal punctuation, then it does become more difficult to distinguish terminal punctuation from abbreviations, using the American style. So if this (in my view unfortunate) trend towards a normal space after terminal punctuation is really here to stay, then that's a strong point in favor of transitioning to British-style abbreviations.
Again, LaTeX does this very nicely, though it does require a tiny bit of effort on the part of the author. When I want to use a period to end a sentence, I just type normally — one space or two, or seventeen, makes no difference; the engine will choose a wide space that's usually sufficient to mark the sentence break, while maintaining pleasing spaces in other ways.
But if I want to use an abbreviation followed by a period, Mr. or Dr. or what have you, I follow it immediately by a backslash-space, and the engine knows that the sentence is continuing and adjusts accordingly. --Trovatore (talk) 18:22, 1 June 2015 (UTC)

Thanks, all. Joseph A. Spadaro (talk) 05:18, 1 June 2015 (UTC)


A friend got a report after an ultrasound that included the comment "baja cogenidad". So far as I can tell, "cogenidad" doesn't exist anywhere on the internet. Can anyone think of a word for which it might be a misspelling (in Spanish)? Thanks. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Medeis (talkcontribs) 18:33, 29 May 2015

  • We figured out it meant "low echogenicity" (ecogenidad) which makes sense given the procedure. μηδείς (talk) 20:02, 29 May 2015 (UTC)

May 30[edit]

The Rain In Spain[edit]

Does it actually fall mainly on the plain, or is this just an elocution lesson for people who have trouble pronouncing 'ai'? A bit like 'How now, brown cow', which has no verb and one would not expect an answer from a cow, whatever colour it was. (talk) 10:39, 30 May 2015 (UTC)

The song doesn't say it falls on the plain but that it stays ("mainly") in the plain. Now seriously. Contact Basemetal here 11:30, 30 May 2015 (UTC)
Since what is meant by plain us undefined, the answer is uncertain. Most of Spain except the coasts is a high plateau, rain clouds tend to rain out as they are forced to ascend, hence much of Spain is dry. The Northwest coast (especially Spanish Galicia) is rather lush. Much of the potential rain from the Atlantic falls there and in Portugal rather than inland. See climate of Spain. μηδείς (talk) 19:28, 30 May 2015 (UTC)
I think the answer is clear — it's the second thing you said. Or more precisely, it's what the librettist thought would sound like an elocution lesson. The elocution teachers couldn't much care whether the statement reflected reality, and the librettist wasn't much more interested in whether real elocution teachers use such a phrase.
Compare Moses supposes his toeses are roses/but Moses supposes erroneously/for Moses, he knowses his toeses aren't roses/as Moses supposes his toeses to be. --Trovatore (talk) 21:38, 30 May 2015 (UTC)
Prof. Enry Iggins was packing as many "ays" in there as he could. Eliza would say it, "The rine in Spine sties minely in the pline." Until she "got it", by George. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 22:00, 30 May 2015 (UTC)
The other one they used was "In Hartford, Hereford and Hampshire, hurricanes hardly ever happen". Now, "hardly ever" says they have happened, if only rarely. I'm no meaty horologist, but I'd be surprised if hurricanes have ever happened in those parts. Conclusion: it wasn't meant to reflect the truth. Neither was the Spanish one. -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 22:34, 30 May 2015 (UTC)
It sounded like Hertford, not Hartford, to me. DuncanHill (talk) 00:07, 31 May 2015 (UTC)
Hartford. Start at about 1:15 in.[3] Or this, from :00.[4]Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 00:23, 31 May 2015 (UTC)
Hertford is pronounced like "Hartford", and presumably the line is referring to the places in England...also Hartford frequently gets hurricanes, doesn't it? So that part wouldn't make sense, not that it really needs to make sense, but anyway it's clearly referring to Hertford. Adam Bishop (talk) 00:43, 31 May 2015 (UTC)
See also pun. DuncanHill (talk) 00:47, 31 May 2015 (UTC)
Aha, spelled Hertford but pronounced Hartford. That British peculiarity, in words like clerk, derby, Kerr, etc. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 03:08, 31 May 2015 (UTC)
Hartford, Connecticut was actually named after Hertford, Hertfordshire, but I suppose that they had forgotten how to spell it while they were away. The spelling of the place was Herutford in the 8th century,[5] so I think we have continuity on our side. Alansplodge (talk) 18:03, 1 June 2015 (UTC)
And the irony is that they pronounce "hurricane" like "hurric'n". ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 03:41, 31 May 2015 (UTC)
But they don't pronounce 'mobile' and 'missile' as if they were spelt 'moble' and 'missle'. And they don't drop the h in herb. So, all is forgiven. -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 06:21, 31 May 2015 (UTC)
As it turns out, "erb" was correct from French, and later someone started enunciating the "h", from the Latin.[6] However, we Yanks say "herbicide", not "erbicide". You got us on "mobile" (or "Mobil Oil") and "missle", though I doubt that the French pronunciation ended with a homophone of "isle" / "aisle". But we say the formal name of a car as "aw-toe-moe-beel". Do you say "aw-toe-moe-byle"? Then there's "Moe-BEEL", Alabama, but it apparently is an unrelated word.[7]Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 14:53, 31 May 2015 (UTC)
In my speech, the adjective meaning "able to be moved from place to place" is /'moʊbəl/, but the toy is a /'moʊ,bi:l/. --Trovatore (talk) 00:49, 2 June 2015 (UTC)
That would depend on whether you use "hurricane" in the strict sense where it is limited to a sufficiently powerful tropical cyclone in certain parts of the world, or whether you mean the word to include any windstorm of hurricane strength. Specifically, see Great Storm of 1987. -- (talk) 23:10, 30 May 2015 (UTC)
"Tropical cyclone" and "typhoon" don't start with the letter "h". ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 23:14, 30 May 2015 (UTC)
A typhoon in Troon would not affect the Toon. DuncanHill (talk) 13:13, 31 May 2015 (UTC)
What's this about the British pronouncing "Kerr" like "car"? Bill Kerr came over from Perth and went back there after working with Tony Hancock at the BBC. He was always a "cur" to us. Hancock went on tour to Australia and killed himself in Melbourne, like Jimmy Clitheroe did. When I was over there I was ticked off for pronouncing "Melbourne" to rhyme with "born" rather than "burn". I was also admonished for pronouncing "Albany" to rhyme with the American (shopping) "mall" rather than the British "mallet". Do Australians shop in the "mall" rhyming with "maul" like the Americans or do they say it in the British way to rhyme with "pal"?
Aussies wouldn't know that Costessey, a suburb of Norwich (rhymes with the first syllable of "coral" followed by "itch") is pronounced "Cossy". One stop down the railway line, Wymondham is pronounced the same as that town in the far north of Western Australia. Cutteslowe, a suburb of Oxford, is pronounced "Cutslow", but when I was living in the equivalent Perth suburb it was pronounced as written. I was amused to learn that Cottesloe is now the Beverley Hills of Western Australia. The smart places used to be City Beach and Floreat Park. I also lived in Northbridge, which had a bad reputation even in 1911. How do Australians handle the pronunciation of names like Beauchamp, Cholmondeley, Mainwaring and St John Stevas? (talk) 13:42, 31 May 2015 (UTC)
In English, the word "south" at the beginning of a place name sometimes rhymes with the first syllable in "mother", thus Southall, a west London suburb, Southwark, a south London suburb across the Thames from the City (the "w" is not sounded), and Southwell, a Nottinghamshire town which you hear of in betting shops because it has a racecourse (again the "w" is not sounded). Does Australian pronunciation follow the same pattern? In Perth, between Mosman Park and Fremantle, there used to be a Shire of Peppermint Grove, which had its own council but consisted of about half a dozen streets. I believe it's been reorganised, but before it was would it hold the record for the smallest local government unit ever? (talk) 13:59, 31 May 2015 (UTC)
What about Loughborough? KägeTorä - () (もしもし!) 14:04, 31 May 2015 (UTC)
Well there you're getting to it. Slough, Brough Park, Lough Neagh, Loughborough (including the last syllable), they're all pronounced differently. It was George Bernard Shaw who decided that "ghoti" is actually pronounced "fish" - "gh" as in "tough", "o" as in "women", and "ti" as in "nation". (talk) 14:16, 31 May 2015 (UTC)
You'd still be wrong if you pronounced Melbourne to rhyme with 'burn'. It's Mel-bən. And Brisbane is Briz-bən (not -bane). We shop in a "mall" (rhymes with Paul, not with pal), but yes, Albany is al-, not awl-. When I was at school, we were taught the proper prons of most well-known Australian places, so we knew Launceston was Lon-, not Lawn-; and Toowoomba had a short -oom- (like a Yorkshireman saying "plum"), not long (like "doom"); and Canowindra was "kə-NOWN-dra" (rhymes with Caloundra), not "ka-nə-WIN-dra"; and Wangaratta was wang-, not wong-, and so on. But listen to TV weather reports and you end up screaming at the presenters because they obviously have never even heard of half the places they tell us about, let alone have a clue how to pronounce them. So, with such a standard among the local "experts", we should go a little easier on our international visitors, many of whom are from overseas. -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 21:26, 31 May 2015 (UTC)
Also, I don't know who you're getting him confused with, but Jimmy Clitheroe suicided in Blackpool, England, and I can find no evidence he ever visited Australia at all. Also, Tony Hancock suicided in Sydney, not Melbourne. -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 21:31, 31 May 2015 (UTC)
Suicided? There's a word that should kill itself. DuncanHill (talk) 22:13, 31 May 2015 (UTC)
Also, Bill Kerr resided in Perth when he returned to Australia, but he had had no previous association with that city. He was born in South Africa, and on migration to Australia his family lived in Wagga Wagga, NSW, a very long way from Perth. In the UK he was billed as "The Boy from Wagga Wagga". -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 21:42, 31 May 2015 (UTC)
See "List of names in English with counterintuitive pronunciations".—Wavelength (talk) 14:53, 31 May 2015 (UTC)
Wasn't Deborah Kerr pronounced "car"? In the UK, Bill Kerr was always pronounced "cur", and fissile missile rhymes. Widneymanor (talk) 20:55, 31 May 2015 (UTC)
Yes, Deborah Car and Bill Cur. What a team they'd have made! But they've both karked it (or is that kirked it, or kerrked it, or curked it ...?). -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 21:42, 31 May 2015 (UTC)

Pronuciation of Dupleix[edit]

What is the proper pronunciation of the French surname Dupleix? -- (talk) 19:34, 30 May 2015 (UTC)

As far as I know the final 'x' is pronounced in both French and English and the 'ei' is pronounced as a short 'e' in English and as an open 'e' in French. Contact Basemetal here 21:24, 30 May 2015 (UTC)
But how is the X pronounced? -- (talk) 03:35, 31 May 2015 (UTC)
According to this, it's pronounced like an "x". If so, "Dupleix" would be a near-homophone of "duplex". ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 03:40, 31 May 2015 (UTC)
The 'x' is pronounced like an 'x', i.e. as 'ks'. In French 'Dupleix' and 'duplex' are perfect homophones. In English they only differ in the place of the accent: first syllable for 'duplex', last syllable for 'Dupleix'. Contact Basemetal here 04:57, 31 May 2015 (UTC)

Marquee project[edit]

In our article Gambit (2012 film), it says "Sutherland knew of a fledgling production company, Crime Scene Pictures, with equity financing from Southeast Asia, who were looking for a marquee project for their new company and felt that Gambit would fit the bill". What is a "marquee project"? DuncanHill (talk) 20:36, 30 May 2015 (UTC)

See definition 2 here [8]. The adjectival one. "very popular and well known, having or associated with the name recognition and attraction of one whose name appears on a marquee." A marquee is the giant sign that appears over the doors of theaters, where you put the names of the best known stars in a show to attract patrons. In the middle 20th century, the word got expanded to mean "well-known" or "well recognized". A "marquee project" is one that a company is hoping will be a huge hit that will attract the company itself customers and name recognition, in the same way that a star's name on a theater marquee would attract customers. --Jayron32 21:01, 30 May 2015 (UTC)
Thank you. I was previously only aware of the tent. DuncanHill (talk) 21:11, 30 May 2015 (UTC)
Synonyms might be "signature project" or "flagship project" (if it's the main one). StuRat (talk) 23:00, 30 May 2015 (UTC)
I wonder how on earth we managed to stumble through our pathetic lives before they finally took pity on us and gave us adjectives like "marquee" and "boutique". -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 06:14, 31 May 2015 (UTC)
Isn't a "marquee display" on an electronic devices (e.g. old-style electronic typewriter) the term for where a single line of text runs laterally on a narrow rectangular screen, as with a teletype? -- Deborahjay (talk) 08:44, 1 June 2015 (UTC)

May 31[edit]

Where does the 'n' in the Arabic word for pharaoh come from?[edit]

In Egyptian there was no 'n' in the word for pharaoh (and neither is there one in Hebrew or English). In French the n of 'pharaon' comes from the Latin accusative (the declension is pharao, pharaonem). But where might the 'n' of the corresponding Arabic word 'firʿawn' (فِرْعَوْن) come from? Contact Basemetal here 12:46, 31 May 2015 (UTC)

Classical Arabic contains an 'n' at the end of masculine nouns. (talk) 13:44, 31 May 2015 (UTC)
There are thousands of masculine nouns in Arabic that do not end in 'n'. Are you talking about tanwīn? The 'n' at the end of 'firʿawn' is not tanwīn. Contact Basemetal here 14:20, 31 May 2015 (UTC)
Etymonline only has "title of the kings of ancient Egypt, Old English Pharon, from Latin Pharaonem, from Greek Pharao, from Hebrew Par'oh, from Egyptian Pero', literally "great house."" so maybe it comes from French or Latin? KägeTorä - () (もしもし!) 15:37, 31 May 2015 (UTC)
The word is already used in the Qur'ān so I'd say French is out.
An early (pre-Islamic) borrowing from Latin? Maybe not impossible even though this would seem a fairly circuitous way to go about it: why Latin instead of Aramaic, or Hebrew, or Coptic, or some other neighboring language? But, leaving that aside, the Latin nominative does not have an 'n'. You'd expect languages borrowing from Latin to borrow the nominative not the accusative. Are there other examples of borrowings from Latin using the accusative as their model? The case of words inherited from Latin by languages descended from Latin is different.
Going back to's suggestion, I wonder whether something that could have started as a tanwīn form 'firʿawun' (فِرْعَوٌ) based on 'firʿaw' (فِرْعَو), which as you can see would correspond etymologically to the Hebrew form, could not have given the Arabic form of the Qur'ān: so 'firʿaw' > 'firʿawun' > 'firʿawn'? But how would an indefinite (as the meaning of tanwīn is) eventually become the basic form of the noun? Are there other examples of Arabic words that were originally a tanwīn form where the 'n' of the tanwīn form eventually became part of the basic form of the word?
Contact Basemetal here 17:34, 31 May 2015 (UTC)
Joseph Henry Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament says "Φαραων" with an N at the end is a variant spelling in Josephus. That's pretty much exactly the same as the Arabic spelling, so maybe that was a spoken form, and that's how Muhammad picked it up. Adam Bishop (talk) 12:57, 1 June 2015 (UTC)
'How the scribe picked it up' :) Alanscottwalker (talk) 13:02, 1 June 2015 (UTC)
Why "the scribe"? Do you imagine Muhammad dictated without the 'n' and the scribe took it upon himself to insert an 'n'? Face-smile.svg
I'm skeptical of a direct Greek connection: the Greek form has lost the information that there was an ʿayin there and where it was. If borrowed from Greek, where would Arabic have gotten the ʿayin and how did it insert it exactly where it corresponds to that of the Egyptian word? From Greek 'Φαραων' you'd expect, wouldn't you say, Arabic 'faraʾūn' or 'faraʾun' (فَرَؤُون and فَرَؤُن respectively: I hope I got my hamzas right) according as, when the word was borrowed, vowel length was still a feature of the Greek language or not. In the former case I'm assuming that the alphas were all short, which I don't actually know. I also ignored the question of the first vowel which is in fact 'i' in the Arabic word. I don't think that is a serious problem. Arabic short vowels are unstable.
But maybe Adam is getting closer. Indeed, where did Josephus (or the copyist responsible for this variant) pick up his 'n'? If not Hebrew (which does not have the 'n') could it be Aramaic? Can anyone find some Aramaic or Syriac forms of 'pharaoh'?
Not directly connected: Does the Latin nominative of the word really have a short 'o' (as Wiktionary says)? Or in fact a long 'o'? If the word was borrowed from Greek you'd expect a long 'o', plus Latin nominatives in 'o' (imago, leo, etc.) usually end in a long 'o', so analogy would also seem to make the long 'o' more likely. I wonder if, for Latin, Wiktionary makes a distinction between "short vowel" and "vowel of unknown length". It is mostly vowels in closed syllables (not the case here) whose length is unknown (so called "hidden quantity"), for obvious reasons.
Amazingly it turns out that (this is 2015!) there still is no decent etymological dictionary for Arabic in any language? Apparently some people are working on one in Norway. Hard to believe isn't it?
Contact Basemetal here 18:48, 1 June 2015 (UTC)
Yeah, apparently it's difficult to make an etymological dictionary for Arabic? Maybe it's because Arabic is relatively new as far as classical languages go...but there isn't even a Semitic etymological dictionary in general. There's one for Hebrew though. Anyway, another thought I had was that "fira'un" was constructed as a plural, but there's no precedent for that in the other languages (and that wouldn't work with the actual plural, "fira'ina"). Also, as you mentioned above, the Arabic is (فِرْعَوْن, not فِرَؤُن, so it's actually not the same as the Greek, but I suppose -αων would be pronounced as a diphthong there. As for where the ayin came from if it was borrowed from Greek, are there any other words where something similar happened? I'm sure there are but I can't think of any - the only one I can think of is Constantinople, where the Greek taus became ط and the kappa became ق - قسطنطينية. But those are consonants reinterpreted to a similar sound, not a vowel becoming a new consonant. Are there any other Greek names or words with the sequence -αω- borrowed into Arabic? Adam Bishop (talk) 23:49, 1 June 2015 (UTC)
Latin universitas, accusative universitatem, that's how we got "university" in English and universitaet in German. Neither language is descended from Latin. In fact, English seems regularly to get its Latin - derived words from the accusative - "imaginary" and "leonine" have been flagged above and there must be hundreds more - I can think of legal, marginal, ordinal, pontifical, regal, sacerdotal and virgin.
You get some very weird transitions - for example the Babylonian arach - samna became the Hebrew Marcheshvan through perfectly regular rules of lexical change. As for pharaoh, could "pharaonic" have arisen from the same process that turned "a" into "an", or Portuguese "em" + "o" into "no"? (talk) 09:35, 2 June 2015 (UTC)
'An' didn't come from 'a', it was the other way around. 'An' was the Old English word for 'one'. KägeTorä - () (もしもし!) 12:18, 2 June 2015 (UTC)
I'm not sure about German, but English either gets all those words from French, or from Latin adjectives which slready used the base form, so that's a different process. Adam Bishop (talk) 10:34, 2 June 2015 (UTC)
A language like Sard, which is really Latin with different endings, is already showing the change to noun formation from the accusative/genitive/dative/ablative stem. Why shouldn't a word like "virgin", for example, be directly formed from the Latin virginem? (talk) 11:54, 2 June 2015 (UTC)
Etymonline says it's from Anglo-French/Old French "virgine". In other words it is from 'virginem' but not directly from 'virginem'. It's through Old French. And in Old French this is not a borrowing from Latin but a word inherited from Latin. Those words do come from the accusative. I have not checked all of the evidence of course but I was taught that borrowings from Latin into French, English, etc. all use the nominative as their model. The reason could be that to foreigners, and to European scholars who were using Latin as their scholarly language, it was the nominative that "represented" the word. Similarly it is the nominative that we use in Latin dictionaries to represent the word. Not quite the same thing but it may give an idea of the process. I'm not claiming this rule is absolute and that someone may not be able to find a borrowing from Latin that does use the accusative. If you wanna try you can basically limit yourself to those words of the 3rd declension that have a different number of syllables in the nominative and the accusative.
Regarding Adam's question whether Arabic speakers would hear a vowel hiatus in a ancient Greek as an ʿayin or as a hamza: Greek χάος gives Arabic كاوس if you believe Arabic WP. There are at least two possibilities for its pronunciation (couldn't find a vocalization) but at least you can see there's no ʿayin. One example, that's not a lot a lot. Maybe others can come up with other examples. (And please don't forget my request for Aramaic pharaohs if you come across one.)
Contact Basemetal here 14:18, 2 June 2015 (UTC)
There is apparently a letter in Aramaic to a pharaoh, which you can read about on JSTOR, but it doesn't give the Aramaic text...still maybe that help find the original text. Adam Bishop (talk) 16:25, 2 June 2015 (UTC)
Here is another, with the Aramaic text - although the word for Pharaoh is the same as in Hebrew, no indication of an N. This is from the 7th century BC though, so that doesn't really help figure out if there was an N there 1000 years later when Arabic borrowed it. Adam Bishop (talk) 16:55, 2 June 2015 (UTC)

OK, outdent to make this seems that the Peshitta version of the Bible uses the word for pharaoh with an N at the end at Romans 9:17. My search is a bit hampered by my inability to read Aramaic or Syriac and my lack of proper fonts, but this Peshitta New Testament search tool can be used to show the Syriac as well as Arabic, Hebrew, and Latin transliterations (all of which also contain the final N). This might help explain where Arabic got it from...although that still leaves us with the question of where Syriac got it from. (If it's actually a Syriac form then maybe that's where Josephus got his variant Greek spelling.) Adam Bishop (talk) 17:12, 2 June 2015 (UTC)

Thanks Alan. Lots of stuff. It could turn out it's all from Aramaic/Syriac after all. That would seem to be the more natural, or at least the more expected answer as the source of Biblical stories in the Qurʾān seem to have been Aramaic speaking Christians and Jews. You may remember the story a few years ago about the houris being allegedly not in the least pure virgins but just white grapes. I don't know where that particular story is at, as I haven't been following it, but it would seem only natural if there was a little Aramaic influence hidden in the Qurʾān. But, as you say, that would only beg the question: Where did Aramaic get the 'n'? We'll worry about that another time. "After all, tomorrow is another day". This said I'd love to know what the Akkadian word is for 'pharaoh'. You may know that Akkadian was used through the whole of the Middle East (even in Egypt actually) as a diplomatic language and that could have influenced Aramaic which followed it as the diplomatic lingua franca. Or in Nabatean, an Aramaic dialect spoken by people who were ethnically Arabs and which may have influenced early Arabic. Mutual influences of Semitic languages on one another in the Middle East could give any linguist a serious headache, not to mention us, lowly dilettanti. In the end, if there is one origin it can't very well be anything other than analogy or morphology. It could also be "totally random" but that's just another name for "we haven't figured out the answer yet". But, like I said, tomorrow is another day. Contact Basemetal here 20:16, 2 June 2015 (UTC)
The Akkadian word seems to be "pirhu", obviously a borrowing, although they would also use their own word "lugal" to refer to a pharaoh. Adam Bishop (talk) 00:25, 3 June 2015 (UTC)

June 1[edit]

Native level of proficiency?[edit]

Is "native" a level? Some natives cannot read or write, and many have a very limited vocabulary. I am pretty sure that an educated foreigner could write better than the bottom 25% of the the natives. And that's being generous. Wouldn't that mean that something like "full professional proficiency" is sometimes higher than "native"?--Llaanngg (talk) 12:47, 1 June 2015 (UTC)

Wikipedia has an article titled First language which covers the various ways this can be defined; under the "defining native speaker" section of that article, the most relevant definition for your purposes is likely "The individual is able to produce fluent, spontaneous discourse". Note, also, that most linguists treat spoken language different than written language, notably that a spoken language is acquired naturally, without instruction or intervention, by children, and will even be invented spontaneously by isolated populations with no contact with other languages (see Nicaraguan Sign Language which is the most famous case study for spontaneous language creation of this type). Written languages, on the other hand, are artificial constructs which exist to represent the spoken language, they must be taught, and are only acquired by a learner after mastery of the spoken language. Reading and writing are not important variables in determining linguistic fluency, many languages worldwide have no written form; and yet their speakers are self-evidently fluent in communicating with others in their own tongue. --Jayron32 13:01, 1 June 2015 (UTC)
  • A native level of proficiency and a professional level of proficiency are not the same thing, otherwise all native speakers would be good writers and announcers. That's obviously not true. A look at the article Oral Proficiency Interview (run by an American company, but viewed as industry standard) and related topics such as the written tests and the various scales is a good way to start. μηδείς (talk) 19:12, 1 June 2015 (UTC)

'uman rights and 'elf 'n' safety[edit]

The earlier question about apheresis reminded be of something that's been puzzling me for some time. In the UK, it seems to be commonplace for people who write letters to (or opinion pieces in) newspapers criticising health and safety or human rights legislation to refer to them as 'elf 'n' safety or 'uman rights. Does anyone here know what the purpose is of this apheresis? Is it supposed to be a parody of the supposed accent or manerisms of people that care about health and safety / human rights? (And if so, what accent is it meant to be and why the association?) Or is it supposed to represent something else? Iapetus (talk) 10:17, 2 June 2015 (UTC)

I think maybe they are intended as more a parody of the kind of blind-obedience-without-understanding that sometimes surrounds this legislation. And the notion that they are so ubiquitous that they have become "slang words." One can of course easily imagine these being parrotted out by London cab drivers. See wikt:elfin_safety. Martinevans123 (talk) 13:29, 1 June 2015 (UTC) [9]
See the Wikipedia article titled eye dialect. WP:WHAAOE. --Jayron32 13:32, 1 June 2015 (UTC)
Also in part another version of the irregular verb format (I am firm, you are obstinate, (third person pronoun) is as stubborn as a mule) - if one agrees with it/finds it useful it is human rights/health and safety, if opposed it is 'uman rights and 'elf 'n' safety. Jackiespeel (talk) 10:04, 2 June 2015 (UTC)
The thing about all that that puzzles me is that - as the article says - eye-dialect is often used to suggest superiority over the people who supposedly talk like that. But the (stereotypical) London cabbie is more likely to be complaining about over-the-top H&S / HR laws rather than blindly obeying them. So essentially, the writers are parodying people who agree with them. Is this then meant to be a way of showing (claiming) that "Ordinary hard-working people agree with me"? Iapetus (talk) 10:17, 2 June 2015 (UTC)
"Elf 'n' safety" evokes a middle-to-upper-class person being stymied and frustrated by a jobsworth, someone of a lower class who nonetheless has the upper hand because he represents bureaucracy. The lower class person would, in London at least, stereotypically drop their aitches.
Upper-middle-class person: But I left my handbag in there!
Fluorescent-jacketed steward: Can't let you in luv. More 'n my job's worth. 'Elf 'n' safety, innit.
There is also a common stereotype of lower class people using 'human rights' to defend inexcusable behaviour, more out of a vague sense of entitlement than actual legal knowledge. "You can't give my Wayne detention! It's against 'is 'uman rights!" -- (talk) 10:31, 2 June 2015 (UTC)
Also, as in other contexts, intonation/facial expression - or which newspaper is using the phrase - can affect the meaning. (And sometimes the speaker wishes to say 'it isn't practical (for various reasons' or 'you are annoying me' and uses the jobsworth/elf and safety to fob the person off. Jackiespeel (talk)

Pronunciation of "Blayac"[edit]

Can anyone tell me how to pronounce the French surname "Blayac", as in Jérémy Blayac? In terms an Englishman would understand if possible. Cheers. -- (talk) 10:33, 2 June 2015 (UTC)

The IPA is [bla'jak]. If you don't understand IPA, the French [a] sound is similar to the vowel in the English word black as it is pronounced in Wales and most of England, particularly in the North, but NOT as it is pronounced in America or in traditional Received Pronunciation (what you might call a plummy accent). So the English pronunciation is bla YAK, with a very slight emphasis on the second syllable. Marco polo (talk) 13:45, 2 June 2015 (UTC)

"All but..."[edit]

What exactly does this phrase mean? When you say 'experiments have all but ceased', does it mean they have completely ceased, or that they are continuing, albeit in a reduced state? KägeTorä - () (もしもし!) 11:24, 2 June 2015 (UTC)

The latter. (talk) 11:45, 2 June 2015 (UTC)
"In a reduced state" doesn't quite cover it. It means that they have almost entirely ceased. --Viennese Waltz 12:17, 2 June 2015 (UTC)

Requested translation: What are the terms in File:China Airlines Flight 140 EN.svg in Chinese?[edit]

In File:China Airlines Flight 140 EN.svg what are the terms in Chinese in this document? For bustle I presume it is "A cover to protect and hide the back panel of a computer or other office machine." (from wiktionary:bustle)

Thanks! WhisperToMe (talk) 19:10, 2 June 2015 (UTC)

I can't answer your main question, but I think bustle refers specifically to the cover of the stored evacuation slide. See the second paragraph of the linked article. Deor (talk) 22:53, 2 June 2015 (UTC)

Leo Marriot or Leo Marriott?[edit]

This may be the wrong section to ask, but the military author's name is spelled both ways, in hundreds of citations in Wikipedias of many languages, in thousands of websites, and even on his own book covers. This Leo Marriott is probably a different person. Art LaPella (talk) 23:37, 2 June 2015 (UTC)