Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Language/2008 March 19

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March 19[edit]

Attribution of movie quotes[edit]

In a situation where a quote comes from a movie, and you can't pin down the exact creator of the words because:

(a) there were various scriptwriters and it could have been any one of them, or any pair of them, or any three of them .. or ...or all of them, that were involved in producing the final words; or
(b) the words came from the book on which the movie was based, but with some slight alteration by the scriptwriter/s, or
(c) you don't know and it's not really possible to find out which, if either, of these is the case,

to whom do you attribute the quote? -- JackofOz (talk) 11:07, 19 March 2008 (UTC)

If you were using the quote in a scholarly work of some sort, you would, I believe, cite the script as the source, and the scriptwriters (all of them) as the authors. Less formally, I might be inclined to attribute it to the character who actually says the lines in the movie. Carom (talk) 11:42, 19 March 2008 (UTC)
Even in some scholarly work, I've seen quotes attributed to the characters in the movies, presumably because of all of the above problems JackofOz mentioned. But then again, these scholarly works have been outside the realm of drama and film departments, so they may prefer a different standard.--droptone (talk) 11:50, 19 March 2008 (UTC)
Another reason to attribute to the character is that the writer usually is not speaking in his/her own voice, i.e. it might contradict the writer's own opinions. —Tamfang (talk) 19:30, 19 March 2008 (UTC)
Thanks, all. Tamfang's answer hits the nail on the head. Yes, I think it's best to avoid the issue of trying to cover all the bases of which writers' brains the words came from, but simply attribute them to the character. If anyone wants to know who wrote them, they can do the research. (Unless only one writer was involved, in which case it's fine to identify him or her.) I suppose an analogy is with the Queen's speech when opening parliament - the government writes the words, puts them into first person, and she just reads them out in terms such as "My government will ...". They may not reflect her personal views at all, but it's her job to utter them as if they were hers. Just like an actor in a movie. Excellent. -- JackofOz (talk) 04:17, 20 March 2008 (UTC)
Is the Queen even allowed to have personal views? —Angr If you've written a quality article... 08:17, 20 March 2008 (UTC)
Of course she is, but she's expected to keep them personal. She seems to manage this quite ably. - Nunh-huh 08:46, 20 March 2008 (UTC)
That's actually the wrong question, Angr, with respect. It's not even a matter of whether she's allowed or not. What power on Earth can prevent a human being from having private thoughts? What they can do is prevent them from expressing them in public, which is very nicely achieved through a historical convention that the monarch does not involve themself in political issues in any way in public. She has a right to warn, and to be consulted about what the government is up to, and who knows what goes on in her meetings behind closed doors with her prime ministers. But publicly, she is above it all. -- JackofOz (talk) 12:15, 20 March 2008 (UTC)
Sorry, I see I should have made the <tongueincheek>...</tongueincheek> tags around that question visible. —Angr If you've written a quality article... 08:45, 21 March 2008 (UTC)
That's ok, Angr. Just that some people do have the oddest notions of what royalty does and doesn't do, can and can't do etc, and some of the millions of people reading your question would have thought "I've always wondered that too". As a child, I always thought the queen never had anything to do with money, and could just walk into a shop and take whatever she wanted. I'm sure some adults still believe this. -- JackofOz (talk) 22:17, 21 March 2008 (UTC)
Well, her face is on all the money, so it all belongs to her, really. Like with passports and credit cards: you act as if they are yours, but there in teeny tiny type on the contract you signed is a statement to the effect that those items belong to the issuing organisation. And the queen owns the Royal Mail too -- doesn't she? (Aside: if Liz II died suddenly, how long would it take to get Chuck's physiog on the currency and stamps? Do the Mint and the Post Office have some in reserve, just in case? BrainyBabe (talk) 15:43, 24 March 2008 (UTC)
Well, how long did it take to get J.P. replaced by Benny on the Vatican euro? Not long, I think, and they didn't have the advantage of knowing ahead of time who the successor would be. I think having Prince Charles on reserve stamps and money would be putting the cart before the horse, since they don't know yet whether the initials will be C III R or G VII R. And personally, considering how old the Queen Mum lived to be, I fully expect Pretty Billy to be the next monarch anyway. —Angr If you've written a quality article... 16:03, 24 March 2008 (UTC)
That would be the Galahad hypothesis. BrainyBabe (talk) 17:48, 24 March 2008 (UTC)
Not sure what that reference means, unless you're pointing us to the "bastard" bit in a jab towards the alleged illegitimacy of Prince Harry. I used to believe that, but more and more he resembles Charles, so I'm less and less convinced. Even if Liz lives to 100 or so, Charles has her genes and he keeps pretty fit and active so he would presumably still be around; 78 is not too old to ascend the throne. These days, they could start minting new coins pretty quickly, but there's no huge rush. It would certainly have to wait until the monarch gave his approval to the design, and in particular to the portrait, which could take a while. It'll be refreshing to see a left-facing monarch after all this time, though. Given the vast number of QE2 coins out there in circulation, which would remain in circulation indefinitely, the chance of getting a KC3 or KG7 coin (or indeed a KW5 coin) in your change in the short term would be pretty small. -- JackofOz (talk) 23:14, 25 March 2008 (UTC)
No reference to illegitimacy intended (a pretty ridiculous notion, in my opinion). No, the Galahad plan/hypothesis/whatever was doing the rounds when he was but a schoolboy, untainted, and his father was in deep doo-doo. Just as Lancelot was not the parfait gentil knight, because he so lusted for Guinevere, and would never achieve the Grail, but Galahad was virgin and pure and hadn't messed up (yet), and so he might/would (depending on which version of the legends you read), the idea doing the rounds of Whitehall and Fleet Street and the Westminster village in general was that the queen was old and tired, dispirited by the loss of her mother and sister and the unsuitability of her heir apparant, the public would never accept Charles as monarch of the faiths as his adultery had led to the death of the Queen of People's Hearts, but opinion could be made to rally behind a shining new boy-king. I could see the appeal, but didn't think it would wash really. BrainyBabe (talk) 07:36, 26 March 2008 (UTC)


From a non native speaker: I always thought that "quote" was a verb and "quotation" was the associated noun, meaning that there is no such thing as "a quote". Checking some online references to make certain, I got confused.

  • It is always listed in its function as a verb, but some of the dictionaries also have it as a noun, equivalent to "quotation". One or two definitely state that it must not be used as noun.
  • On the fairly synonymous cite vs. citation there is no such ambiguity, as "cite" is exclusively listed as a verb and "citation" is exclusively listed as noun.
  • Of course, I have heard "quote" being used as a noun, but I always thought this to be colloquial usage.

--Cookatoo.ergo.ZooM (talk) 11:53, 19 March 2008 (UTC)

I agree with your last point. You can use "quote" as a noun, but not in formal written English. --Richardrj talk email 12:03, 19 March 2008 (UTC)
If it comes to that, you can use "cite" as a noun too, but not in formal written English. —Angr If you've written a quality article... 12:32, 19 March 2008 (UTC)
A "quote" is a perfectly valid noun in insurance circles. Corvus cornixtalk 18:48, 19 March 2008 (UTC)
Thank you to richard in .at, Angr in .de (I think) and Corvus Cornix.
I was aware that "quote" is used commercially in the meaning of "estimate of payment required for...", but I considered this to be irrelevant to the language desk. --Cookatoo.ergo.ZooM (talk) 19:10, 19 March 2008 (UTC)
That use of 'quote' is still colloquial. Strictly speaking, builders, insurance companies and the like should give you a quotation. --Richardrj talk email 19:23, 19 March 2008 (UTC) doesn't think it's colloquial. Corvus cornixtalk 20:27, 19 March 2008 (UTC)
I've never heard of a builder or insurance agent giving a quotation. Quote has definitely become an acceptable noun here in America. — Laura Scudder 21:15, 19 March 2008 (UTC)
The The American Heritage Dictionary entry at has for quote as a noun: "1.  Informal A quotation." and adds this:
Usage Note: People have been using the noun quote as a truncation of quotation for over 100 years, and its use in less formal contexts is widespread today. Language critics have objected to this usage, however, as unduly journalistic or breezy. As such, it is best avoided in more formal situations. The Usage Panel, at least, shows more tolerance for the word as the informality of the situation increases. Thus, only 38 percent of Panelists accept the example He began the chapter with a quote from the Bible, but the percentage rises to 53 when the source of the quotation is less serious: He lightened up his talk by throwing in quotes from Marx Brothers movies.
I may add that 47% non-acceptance is high.  --Lambiam 07:38, 20 March 2008 (UTC)
In my world, "quote" is an absolutely acceptable noun in language from colloquial all the way through to formal, in any industry you care to name. The only place it would be outlawed is extremely formal writing, such as legislation. -- JackofOz (talk) 22:51, 20 March 2008 (UTC)
An example of the difference between the prescriptive and the descriptive. — Laura Scudder 14:58, 21 March 2008 (UTC)

K ever pronounced in a word including kn?[edit]

I am wondering if there exist any word in English which includes the letter k immediately followed by n, and where the k is pronounced. --Lgriot (talk) 13:31, 19 March 2008 (UTC)

Darkness, for one. Deor (talk) 13:37, 19 March 2008 (UTC)
Interesting. Any word that is not an obvious composition? --Lgriot (talk) 13:39, 19 March 2008 (UTC)
Cockney for another, although I think the OP was angling for words starting with kn where the k is pronounced. - X201 (talk) 13:42, 19 March 2008 (UTC)
I don't know if this counts as an English word, but: Vermicious knid. Carom (talk) 13:40, 19 March 2008 (UTC)
I want to say knish, and pre-empt to "not English" objection by saying that it's the only word available for ordering such an item at the deli. "English" is a rather fluid language, full of words that came from somewhere else. --LarryMac | Talk 13:56, 19 March 2008 (UTC)
You can construct a list of such words starting with kn- easily enough using a dictionary: all the kn- words are together and there few enough that it's practical to look at all the pronunciations shown. Using my 1979 Random House Unabridged, the only other such word I find is knaidel, another cooking word from Yiddish. The dictionary also lists the proper nouns Knesset, Knut, and Knute, but it seems clear that these should not be considered English words. --Anonymous, 14:07 UTC, March 19, 2008.
This word-initial sound combination is really outside the phonotactics of English. English speakers with a knack for non-native phonetics can of course produce the sound combination, but typically when Americans order a knish, they pronounce it kɘ 'nɪʃ (kuh NISH). Other foreign borrowings with this combination of letters get a similar added syllable with an unstressed vowel. Marco polo (talk) 14:13, 19 March 2008 (UTC)
Outside the phonotactics of Modern English, perhaps, but not those of Middle English, in which the initial k in knight, knock, knee, etc., was pronounced (as it was in Old English, where the usual spelling was cn). Deor (talk) 14:28, 19 March 2008 (UTC)
On the silly side, don't forget Vermicious knid. -- Flyguy649 talk 05:14, 20 March 2008 (UTC)
Do you mean silly as in it's a funny word, or silly as in how silly of you not to notice that Carom already mentioned this above?  :) -- JackofOz (talk) 05:19, 20 March 2008 (UTC)
Hmmm.... Good point, er, points. Perhaps bed (which does not have a pronounced kn) is a good idea.... -- Flyguy649 talk 05:24, 20 March 2008 (UTC)


Is Donald Knuth's surname another form of the name Knut/Knute/Canute/...? It looks like one, but looks can be deceiving in etymology. --Anonymous, 14:07 UTC, March 19, 2008.

If this is correct .... (talk) 15:15, 19 March 2008 (UTC)