Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Language/2007 October 16

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October 16[edit]

Expletives[edit]

I have a few questions about expletives -- if anyone can share any insight, I would appreciate that. Thanks.

  1. Oftentimes, when a swear word or expletive is referred to in writing, the actual (offensive) word itself will be removed and will be "masked" with a symbol such as "@$!#@$&!". Is there an actual name for this symbol (in the same way that the "&" symbol is called an "ampersand")?
  2. Is there a name for a symbol (word) such as "f---" or "f--k" to represent the four-letter word f,u,c,k?
  3. Is there a name to describe the phenomenon where we would call the above example "the F word"?
  4. Would the term "euphemism" be applicable or inapplicable in any of the above situations, to describe the thinly veiled swear word? Euphemism does not seem quite right -- or is it? If not euphemism, what would be better grammatical / linguistic terminology?
  5. Does anyone know the origin of these practices -- or have any references, cites, etc., about their history, usage, frequency?
  6. Finally: What -- if any -- is the standard, accepted, conventional way to use expletive words in "formal" writing? Is the standard to use the exact words? To "play it safe"/conservative and use them only in direct quotation marks? To use a generic "expletive deleted" notation? To use the "@$!#@$&!" notation? Or to employ some other alternative? I am referring to an example where it would be essentially meaningless to sanitize the offensive words and "hide" them ... in other words, where using a generic statement such as this is not sufficient: "The teenager shouted several expletives at the police officer and was immediately arrested for breach of peace." If the above scenario needed to be placed into a formal paper, what would be the accepted standard? (I mean, there must be some formal settings -- who knows? a large-group presentation, a police interview, a psychiatric evaluation, etc. -- where you might need to indicate something substantive ... and you can't get away with the above generic-type sentence.) What would be used:
  • John called Officer Smith a fucking asshole.
  • John stated, "You are a fucking asshole" to Officer Smith.
  • John stated, "You are a f------ a------" to Officer Smith.
  • John stated, "You are a "@$!#@$&! @$!#@$&!" to Officer Smith.
  • John stated, "You are a (expletive deleted)" to Officer Smith.

I guess what I am asking is this. What is the proper professional way to write this kind of stuff in a formal setting where (a) you do not necessarily have to use direct quotes but (b) you can't get away with saying nothing at all and you need to have some substance to the writing? So, I am not referring to a police officer's arrest report -- where he would probably use direct quotations. And I am not referring to a psychiatrist's medical evaluation -- where he would probably use direct quotations. But I am referring to some formal setting, where a generic "John used bad language" statement would not quite cut it. Perhaps a letter to the Pope or the Queen or a Judge or a Senator or the Mayor or a Chief of Police or your kid's school teacher/principal or your boss or ... whomever.

7. Finally, finally: How about the same (above) questions, but when the presentation of the offensive words is spoken as opposed to written (e.g., you are speaking at a Town Council meeting or you are speaking in Court)? Any thoughts on all this? Thanks for any helpful input. (Joseph A. Spadaro 02:16, 16 October 2007 (UTC))
  • Representing profanity by a string of punctuation marks is mostly done in comics. See The Lexicon of Comicana: this is one of several comic conventions that Mort Walker invented a name for in jest, only to find it being taken up seriously. The name for them is "grawlixes".
  • "The F word" is certainly a euphemism. The deliberate substitution of a weaker word would be bowdlerization. I think "f---" lies on the border between the two.
  • As to formal contexts, whether spoken or written, I don't think there is any real standard; it's up to the responsible person or organization. For example, until fairly recently you couldn't find "fuck" in any dictionaries; today reputable ones do include it. If one politician tells another to fuck off, one newspaper will find this fact newsworthy and report it verbatim; another will use "f---"; another will use vague wording. Political forums may have rules against inappropriate language. And so on.
--Anonymous, 04:15 UTC, Oct---r 16, 2007.
  • Just for fun, here's an example of that last point. The Speaker of the Quebec provincial legislature ruled this week that it is now impermissible in the legislature to call your opponent a "girouette"... which is to say, a "weathervane"! (News story: in French, in English) --Anon, 05:10 UTC, October 17.
A variant on "f------ a------" that allows the reader to deduce exactly what was said without writing it in full is to replace vowels with asterisks, thus: "f*ck*ng *ssh*l*". This is also done for other reasons; many years ago The Judy's had a song called "Will Someone Please Kill M*rl* Th*m*s", where the asterisks were presumably used in an attempt to avoid a lawsuit. —Angr 05:34, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
The choice of which sort of censorship (which it is, in a way) in the quoting you use is not standardised. It would depend, mostly, on the audience. If it's for the Council for Easily Shocked Grannies, replacing the word entirely with CENSORED would be appropriate. In most cases, it would be acceptable to use f**k, f--- or f@!$, for politeness' sake. It could also be appropriate to use the uncensored text without removing any part, but placing a visible warning before that part of the text, saying that it contains offensive language (like you might see before a movie or on a CD case (if they do in your part of the world). Steewi 07:26, 16 October 2007 (UTC) Edited to add - there is also the possibility that people may be offended by the non-use of swearwords when they obviously occur, taking it as a form of being patronised.
5. The practice of replacing all or part of an offensive word with hyphens appears as a guideline in The Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual, the American journalist's stylebook. It doesn't give the practice a name.
6. I think you would have to judge case-by-case. In the highest register, I would tend to go with the exact words in direct quotation. I would expect the intelligentsia to be more offended by the insult to their intelligence that euphemism gives than by the words themselves, and indirect quotation puts the words in the writer's mouth, so to speak. If it seemed advisable to tone it down, I would probably go with the hyphens. Grawlixes are only for the funny papers and fiction. "Expletive deleted" is a euphemism for "censored", and has a comical ring to it. By the way, "expletive" is itself a euphemism for "profanity" or "obscenity". --Milkbreath 11:05, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
2. According to our WP:Profanity article, this can be called bowdlerization, as suggested by Anonymous.
3. I agree with Anonymous that the "F word" is a euphemism.
6+7. I haven't found any resources on style that talk about this, but in my opinion, when it is important to include the exact words, I would suggest using their completely uncensored forms in quotes in both written and oral presentations. It's annoying (at least to me) to see forms like "f------ a------" and hear "he called him a racial slur." When the intent is to be informative, uncensored forms are preferable since they leave it up to the reader—instead of the writer—to decide how offensive a statement was.--El aprendelenguas 18:26, 16 October 2007 (UTC)

The most professional approach is to actually quote what the person stated, 'he said the officer is a motherfucker'" would be fine. however if you have any restraints such as censorship one of the other alternatives is fine, except the #$%& approach which is childish and comical i.e. Pow! Bam! Kpow! "F-ing A-hole (sic)" might be the best way to state this if you have censopship as an issue.CholgatalK! 21:39, 16 October 2007 (UTC)

The sic in your example above means that the speaker censored their own speech (their utterance sounded like "eff-ing ey-hole"). This seems exactly the opposite effect from the desired one. Tesseran 06:32, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
Yes, sic would be inappropriate there. It's normally used to convey that an apparent spelling or factual error is exactly what a previous writer wrote, and should not be attributed to a typo in the current text. -- JackofOz 06:44, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
Our article on Minced oath might be helpful. Rockpocket 18:47, 19 October 2007 (UTC)
Dweller's thread of the week. It's an 'out of the box' idea.

Congratulations to all contributing here. This f**king brilliant debate wins the ninth User:Dweller/Dweller's Ref Desk thread of the week award. Good job. --Dweller 11:55, 19 October 2007 (UTC)

A somewhat related old ref-desk thread: Wikipedia:Reference_desk/Archives/Humanities/2006_November_22#Blanking_of_names_and_years_in_older_books (The original question was, "Why does Poe write some names like Mr D--- and Mr G---?") Wareh 19:39, 19 October 2007 (UTC)
Thanks to all for the great insights and input -- very helpful -- much appreciated ... Thank you. (Joseph A. Spadaro 20:15, 21 October 2007 (UTC))

Need a word[edit]

What's the word for when you use an item for a use other than its intended use? Like when you use a screwdriver to hit a nail. I'm not describing it well, but its usually used in the context that most people can't see uses for things which would be useful otherwise. E.G. a person is in a room and they need to hammer a nail and all they have is a screwdriver, so they say can't do it.

I think i heard it in AP Psychology

Micah J. Manary 05:15, 16 October 2007 (UTC)

The more formal word is expedient, but you can also say make-do, makeshift, stopgap... ect. But is that what you mean?--K.C. Tang 06:52, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
Pragmatic? -- JackofOz 06:55, 16 October 2007 (UTC)

No, the word is for a mental block when you CAN'T see another use for an item. Micah J. Manary 06:56, 16 October 2007 (UTC)

So the word is used to describe the feeling "Hey, I can't make do with that!"?--K.C. Tang 07:26, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
It's two words, but how about "blind spot"? Clarityfiend 07:54, 16 October 2007 (UTC)

The word is "to utilise"-- which is not just a fancy synonym of "use", but literally means "to turn something into a tool"; Thus, "I utilised a wire coat-hanger for a TV antenna. Rhinoracer 08:08, 16 October 2007 (UTC)

Not sure if this is what you are seeking ... but as I read this post, the phrase "tunnel vision" comes to mind ... (Joseph A. Spadaro 13:35, 16 October 2007 (UTC))
Makeshift? 195.35.160.133 15:22, 16 October 2007 (UTC) Martin.

By looking at etymology, abuse would be a good choice (ab = "away from"), but at least for your hammer example, it's probably not what your looking for since it has a strong negative connotation.--El aprendelenguas 17:19, 16 October 2007 (UTC)

  • True, "abuse" would be very negative: what you seem to be looking for, is just alternative use. Since this requires creativity, the mental activity needed might be called lateral thinking, the resulting physical act would be improvisation.
  • If you fail to recognize the alternative use of the screwdriver, this could, it seems to me, only be described in negative terms: you fail in lateral thinking, you are unable to improvise.
  • This is not mental block, which occurs if you cannot even access "normal" uses: e.g., there is a hammer in the room, but for some (emotional?) reason you fail to recognize its use. Bessel Dekker 17:23, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
I think you're looking for functional fixedness. risk 00:29, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
I think you've got it.--K.C. Tang 01:29, 17 October 2007 (UTC)

Still another word for using something for a new purpose is "repurposing". This is a relatively new word and won't be in most dictionaries. I think it tends to imply that the original usage is being abandoned. --Anonymous, edited 01:43 UTC, October 17, 2007.

To Macguyver? Confusing Manifestation 05:53, 19 October 2007 (UTC)

Pronounciation??[edit]

Looked up Anne Parillaud (actress). How to pronounce her name? WIKI listing shows pronounciation as "an paʁi'jo" Read article on IPA pronounciation, can't figure it out. Is it really pronounced "ANN PARRY JOE" ?? ANSWER.COM has a button so you can hear the word. See here for example: http://www.answers.com/Comedy?nafid=3

That would be a good feature to have on WIKI. Else, use standard english words so we can guess the proper pronounciation.

Thanks —Preceding unsigned comment added by 76.81.244.170 (talk) 07:04, 16 October 2007 (UTC)

A more accessible description of the pronunciation would be "aan par-ee-YAW". The 'r' is the French 'gargled r'. The problem with English-based pronunciation descriptions is that many of the people who come to Wikipedia have different accents in English (my Australian 'look' is pronounced differently to a New Yorker's 'look' as well as that of a Georgian, a Londoner and also a German who has only just learnt English. IPA is independent of accent, so once you know how one of the symbols sounds, it's the same, no matter what accent or language you speak with. I hope that helps you understand the difficulty. The only other useful option is to attach a sound file to each description, but I don't know that that would be practical. Steewi 07:19, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
You're telling us that yaw and yo are pronounced alike in Oz? —Tamfang 21:21, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
In my accent, 'yaw' is pronounced [jo]. 'Yo' is pronounced [jʌʉ]. Perhaps I should have been more specific, that I was writing for my accent, as I don't know what accent to write for 76.81. Steewi 03:25, 17 October 2007 (UTC)

A more useful reference than the IPA page is IPA chart for English which shows the j represents an English y sound (as it would in German). It is pronounced something like Steewi said but the last syllable is more like -oh to me than -aw (or?). See IPA is useful I can't even work out what is meant! Cyta 07:28, 16 October 2007 (UTC)

Also, adding audio files with the pronunciation of a word is done on Wikipedia, but requires someone to have made the file, uploaded it in the right form and put it in the article. Skittle 16:11, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
j as in Latin, Finnish, all Germanic languages except English, and those Slavic languages that don't use Cyrillic (as well as some that do) – any others? —Tamfang 21:23, 16 October 2007 (UTC)

'Only in London' in Latin[edit]

Can anyone suggest a definitive translation of the phrase 'only in London' into Latin? A colleague has suggested 'Londinio solus'. Inter-trans suggests 'Tantum Londinii'. Is one more correct than the other? —Preceding unsigned comment added by 194.66.229.8 (talk) 10:21, 16 October 2007 (UTC)

I am not expert at Latin, but I would think that the best way to render this in Latin would be 'Londinii solum'. The correct form for 'Londinium' is 'Londinii' because in Latin, the locative case was used to indicate location in cities and towns. It should be 'solum' rather than 'solus' because 'solum' is the adverbial form. Typically, modifiers such as 'solum' follow the word or phrase that they modify, hence 'Londinii solum'. 'Tantum Londinii' doesn't look right to me. 'Tantum' can mean 'only', but in the sense of 'only so much', I think. For example, 'I'm only halfway finished'. 'Tantum' might work if you were saying something like, "I'm on my way from Brighton to Cambridge, but at the moment I am only in London." Marco polo 15:40, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
I would suggest "modo Londinii." modo means "just" or "only." solus -a -um means "alone," and while it probably could be used in some construction in Latin to mean "only" (since many Romance languages' words for "only" do derive from solus -a -um), I think that using modo just works better.--El aprendelenguas 17:38, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
I have the impression that the meaning of modo is nearer to "merely" than to "uniquely" which seems to be what's wanted. —Tamfang 21:19, 16 October 2007 (UTC)

Women's underwear[edit]

What word do Americans use to refer to suspenders? The page at suspenders is, inevitably, all about braces (and, by the way, some of the most unencyclopedic rubbish I have ever seen); moreover, the redirect to garter belt does not help.

"Garter belt" is not a synonym for "suspenders", it is a synonym for "suspender belt". So what do Americans call the suspenders themselves? 80.254.147.52 13:08, 16 October 2007 (UTC)

If Americans use a different word, then we don't know what your word means, right? Suspenders are the elastic straps that go over the shoulders to hold your pants up. Please describe the thing you're asking about so we can tell you what it's called. --Milkbreath 13:17, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
I can't use your word to describe it if I don't know what your word is. I suspect that you are being wilfully obtuse. What do Americans call the bits that hang down from the "garter belt" (if you will) and attach to the tops of the stockings? 80.254.147.52 13:21, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
Actually Milkbreath has a fair point. You are supposing that he understands what you mean, but if he is American, he might not. He didn't ask you to use the word, but rather to describe the item so that s/he could help you. A suspender belt is a synonym for garter belt as suspender is a synonym for garter. The suspenders are attached to the suspender belt as the garters are attached to the garter belt. It kind of explains itself. Perhaps reading the garter belt article first paragraph again slowly and considering the content would help - to which garters are attached to hold up stockings.
As for finding the suspenders article "unencyclopedic rubbish", why not improve the article rather than complaining? Be bold.
Also don't forget that raw text is ambiguous and often seems ruder than the same words coming from a person standing in front of you and assume good faith, you may find people more willing to help you. Lanfear's Bane 13:44, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
I didn't have a point or a clue. The only dealings I've had with this whole business was the time I dressed in full drag for Halloween (which resolves the s/he issue), and I wore pantyhose, anyhow, which I'm man enough to admit felt nice, incidentally. Tell you what, the experience gave me a new and lasting respect for the athleticism of the average woman. Have you ever tried to look good walking in heels? It ain't easy, and in fact it hurts.
I'd like to assure 80 (may I call you 80?) that I did not intend to be rude and that I am well able to be obtuse unintentionally. What I was there was lazy. Further, I can be one infuriating sarcastic bastard, I've been told (I'm married, you see), and you'll have no doubt about my intentions if I ever do go that way here.
Anyway, it looks like they're called "garters" (AHD) despite the fact that the word also means that thing the best man removes from the leg of the maid of honor. --Milkbreath 14:36, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
So what do Americans call garters? I mean the things that go around the tops of stockings or socks, not the bit that connects the top of the stocking to the suspender-belt. DuncanHill 13:47, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
I think it is simply called the top band (when I look at the stocking page). There is also a garter of course which is a single band seperate from the stocking. I think the heavier band of material around the top of a stocking must also be erroneously referred to as a garter as it conceals a band of plastic tractive material which helps hold the stocking up but is known as a hold-up or stay-up (myself included in this error up until now). I never knew so much about stockings until now. Thank you Wikipedia, thank you. Lanfear's Bane 14:18, 16 October 2007 (UTC)

It looks like there isn't an article on mens garters then - the ones that hold socks up?87.102.12.235 18:18, 16 October 2007 (UTC)

We used to wear garters in the Cubs. DuncanHill 18:21, 16 October 2007 (UTC)

I've never heard anyone refer to a garter belt as having parts: it's a garter belt, and the straps and clips are part of the garter belt. After all, when would you wear one part without the other? (Would you wear a suspender belt without suspenders? Or, even more bizarre, suspenders without a suspender belt? I think not.)

A garter is definitely the elasticized band that holds up socks and stockings (and shirtsleeves once upon a time.) Garters are generally worn only at weddings for a strange ceremony in which the best man removes said garter from the bride's leg and flings it at a crowd of men, one of whom then puts it on the leg of the maid of honor. You know, if it's an underwear-flinging sort of wedding.

Suspenders are elasticized or adjustable straps that go over the shoulders to hold up pants. Grammargal 04:22, 18 October 2007 (UTC)

Which in British English would be "Braces are elastic or adjustable straps that go over the shoulders to hold up trousers." Bazza 12:20, 19 October 2007 (UTC)

Bad English?[edit]

Just checking, is the phrase "I am me", bad English? I would've thought that since the subject and object are the same, it should be reflexive (I am myself). It doesn't sound too strange, but if you put it in other persons (e.g. "she is her" or "they are them") it sounds much more incorrect. Just curious. Thanks in advance. - EstoyAquí(tce) 16:25, 16 October 2007 (UTC)

Prescriptive grammar dictates "I am I". "Am" is copulative, making the second "I" not an object but a predicate nominative. "Me" is in the objective case, and "I" is nominative.
Real-world grammar ignores all that. "I am me" is also right. It is true that "she is her" sounds unnatural; "she is she" sounds better, oddly. But "they are they" sounds really weird. It's my opinion that "me", anyway, is a special case, that we think of it differently than we do the other pronouns.
People talk the way they talk, and grammar be damned sometimes. If you want to start a fistfight down at Ye Olde Quill and Pince-nez, bring this up once everybody's got a few pints in them. Just watch what happens here. --Milkbreath 16:48, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
Predictably, what happens will be that you lose your pince-nez in the process. Milkbreath is quite right, of course, though I'd amend slightly and say: "Prescriptive grammar be damned sometimes."
Part of this problem, it seems to me, is logical rather than linguistic here. "I am me" voices an identity relation, and seems less logical than "Don't worry, it's me." However, it is hardly less grammatical, if grammar is description of usage. In daily life, how many people would say; "Don't worry, it's I"?
"It is I, LeClerc" Cyta 07:33, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
It is no less interesting that fear of grammatical mistakes may lead to hypercorrection. Thus, a common instance of such grammophobia is a construction like "He looked at my husband and I as if he were going to spit at us." No one, it is hoped, would say "spit at we". Lots of people say "at my husband and I" because of the conjunction and in a wish to err on the safe side (which, in fact, is a very unsafe side here). Bessel Dekker 17:13, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
'I am myself' is perhaps more natural. Algebraist 20:38, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
Surely that has quite a different meaning? Bessel Dekker 00:56, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
Since I'm not sure what 'I am me' is supposed to connote (since to me it's just unnatural), I can't say. Algebraist 12:38, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
Valid point. To me, both I am I and I am me suggest rather a philosophical point of view: one is what one is, no more and no less. On the other hand, I would (quite wrongly, perhaps) take I am myself to mean "I am acting/feeling... etc. in a natural manner", and would mainly be used in a negative context ("Sorry, I am not myself at the moment"). Bessel Dekker 12:31, 18 October 2007 (UTC)

Decommissioning[edit]

This is a question for those who have never heard this usage before. If you read that State Highway 23 was decommissioned in 1984, exactly how would you interpret that? Thank you. (Yes, this is Wikipedia-related.) --NE2 19:38, 16 October 2007 (UTC)

I would read it to mean that the stretch of road formerly known as State Highway 23 had lost its designation as a state highway with that highway number. Marco polo 20:01, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
I'd take it to mean the road was closed permanently. (Or maybe stored underground encased in concrete.) —Angr 20:15, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
I'm with Angr's second comment: I would read it as a bizarre misuse of the word 'decommissioned', the normal usage of which is in entirely different areas. Algebraist 20:36, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
Me too :) I was picturing it being carefully taken apart and the pieces taken away... Skittle 21:16, 16 October 2007 (UTC)

Here's the context: Wikipedia talk:WikiProject U.S. Roads#The new "multiplex": decommissioned? Anyone care to help sort it out? --NE2 08:56, 17 October 2007 (UTC)

Is this a British v. American English difference? See Compact Oxford English Dictionary. Just to widen things further, I'd be seriously worried if members of the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning in Northern Ireland attached different meanings to the word Decommissioning. --ReddyRose 11:40, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
It's a professional vs. "fan community" difference. --NE2 13:28, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
If a person doesn't know what "decommission" means, they can open up a dictionary. It's really very simple. --Son 14:06, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
I did. It's still not clear and could mean either that the road lost it's status, or that it has been closed completely (dug up and carted away being optional). I suspect this is a GB vs US issue. In GB English, decommission often means "switch off", "close", "make unusable"; so when we decommission ships, power stations, armaments (as mentioned above), etc., it means they are no longer usable. From that logic, a decommissioned road is one which is closed and no longer usable. Bazza 14:30, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
That's the meaning in the U.S. too: [1][2] --NE2 14:33, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
I offered my interpretation above based on my knowledge of the United States, where roads are seldom completely removed from service. Instead, highways formerly designated with route numbers become local back roads when they are replaced by a bigger, better highway nearby. Since the expression "decommissioned" seems to be ambiguous and possibly misleading, I would avoid it and instead describe in simpler terms what actually happened: either "the road formerly known as State Highway 23 lost its designation as a state highway" or "State Highway 23 was permanently closed and demolished". Marco polo 14:52, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
"Turned back" (to the county/city) is one term that is used by some departments of transportation. --NE2 15:32, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
This is not entirely unlike decommissioning a ship. A military vessel can be decommissioned and still serve a civilian use after that (like a museum, or something else low-profile). Hence it 'loses its status', but it isn't destroyed. risk 21:03, 19 October 2007 (UTC)
When I first read the question, I imagined something like what Marco said, that the route marked "SR 23" would cease to exist as such, and further that the signs would be taken down and maintenance left to whichever governmental unit below state level would ordinarily be responsible. There would thereafter be a gap in the list of state roads at 23, at least temporarily. I knew that was only a guess, though, and I would be a little peeved if that was all my state said. I've heard of a ship's being decommissioned but not a road, and a dictionary is no help if my state is going to just make up terms. --Milkbreath 16:04, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
Actually it's many Wikipedia articles that say only that. --NE2 16:12, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
(belated comment)
Me, I have no problem with this usage of "decommissioned" as applied to highways, and I'm not sure what all the fuss is.
To me, "decommission" means "lose a formal status" (i.e. a commission) and, depending on circumstances, may mean that the decommissioned entity remains in full use (albeit without the former designation), remains in partial use, is removed from use but still exists (perhaps "mothballed"), or is dismantled/demolished.
(I am a U.S. English speaker.) —Steve Summit (talk) 02:10, 22 October 2007 (UTC)

allowance in spanish[edit]

what would the best way to say "allowance" ($) in spanish? and what about "chart" or "graph" what about "utility" i.e. gas, water, internet; and lastly "single family home" and "single familt detached"?CholgatalK! 21:43, 16 October 2007 (UTC)

allowance in spanish: mesada / mensualidad

chart / graph : tabla / gráfico utility: servicios single family home: vivienda unifamiliar

bye.

In around 2007[edit]

If the precise year of an event isn't known, is it acceptable to say "John Doe was born in around 1390"? Is "in around" cromulent? (nb, I know cromulent isn't cromulent). Or do I have to use "in approximately"? Neil  21:52, 16 October 2007 (UTC)

I think "in about 1390" would sound better. DuncanHill 21:59, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
To me, 'around' is more colloquial, and so fine for a record cover, say, but not for a Wikipedia article. --ColinFine 22:37, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
I would just use "John Doe was born c1390" 84.68.125.254 22:42, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
I would write "John Doe was born c. 1390". (I'd never spell it out as " ... born circa 1390"). If your readership is not familiar with "c.", you could say " ... born about 1390". Btw, "in" should not go with "around/about", because "in" points to a specific year, whereas "around/about" does not. -- JackofOz 01:40, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
  • I would use c., but if I had to choose, I'd do away with both 'in' and 'about' and simply replace them with 'around'. - Mgm|(talk) 08:43, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
Hmmm, we may be encountering different national varieties of English here. "Around" sounds horribly wrong to me, and I strongly feel the "in" is necessary in "was born in about". As to "c" or "circa", I would either write "circa" or "ca.", never "c". DuncanHill 11:12, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
I agree with JackofOz on this. Since he is Australian and I am American, I'm not sure it is a question of different national varieties. I think that it should be either "born around 1390" or "born about 1390". "About" sounds slightly more formal and "encyclopedic" to my American ears. Marco polo 14:59, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
Another possibility: "born approximately 1390." Myself, I'd write c. (circa). Pfly 06:59, 18 October 2007 (UTC)
Do you mean you'd write both the abbreviation and the word itself in brackets? -- JackofOz 04:37, 19 October 2007 (UTC)
Not brackets, parentheses! And, no. :) Pfly 08:05, 19 October 2007 (UTC)
And that's another of those words that varies depending on where you live :P They really do appear in the oddest places. Skittle 21:58, 22 October 2007 (UTC)

That's the...![edit]

I always heard the term "That's the Oldest Trick in the Book" when somebody tries to pull a prank. I've always interpreted this saying as "That [prank] is the most clichéd practical joke" well...my question is simply as such: What is the 'Oldest Trick in the Book'? I can think of a few candidates but, still.....

Thanks!

ECH3LON 22:01, 16 October 2007 (UTC)

(If you're a Christian) The oldest trick in the book is when a snake tricked a dumb broad into eating an apple from the wrong tree. Neil  22:39, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
See The Oldest Trick in the Book. -- BenRG 01:06, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
Since prostitution is called "the world's oldest profession" and a trick is slang for a prostitute's customer, then wouldn't the oldest trick in the book be the first "john"? — Michael J 03:17, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
.....or maybe the oldest 'john', like a 103 year old man with a big urge and a fist full of dollars (or euros or pounds!!) Richard Avery 07:50, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
Whatever the agents of KAOS are trying to pull on Maxwell Smart at the time. Confusing Manifestation 05:51, 19 October 2007 (UTC)