Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Language/2010 November 15

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November 15[edit]

"Forget me not" vs "Don't forget me"[edit]

Hello you all over the world. Please excuse my uneasy English, I'm a froggy. My wife (who teaches English) and I are puzzled by the title of the last part of our daughter's English textbook . This part only concerns the grammar and its tittle is "FORGET ME NOT". It's looks strange to us, why not "DON'T FORGET ME" which sounds more correct to us. Are the 2 sentences correct?

Thank you for your help from the Champagne area-Rheims-France-- (talk) 00:49, 15 November 2010 (UTC)

It's not incorrect, but it sounds old-fashioned. It's also the name of a flower, Forget-me-not, so maybe that has something to do with it. Adam Bishop (talk) 00:53, 15 November 2010 (UTC)
An expression like "forget me not" would be considered poetic, while "don't forget me" is standard prose. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 00:57, 15 November 2010 (UTC)
A similar usage is, for example, a girl plucking petals from a daisy and saying, "He loves me... he loves me not... he loves me... he loves me not..." and so on. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 01:00, 15 November 2010 (UTC)
See He Loves Me... He Loves Me Not. -- Wavelength (talk) 01:15, 15 November 2010 (UTC)
See Lord's Prayer#"And lead us not into temptation". -- Wavelength (talk) 01:18, 15 November 2010 (UTC)
So in short, Middle English used to have a different word-order, compared to Modern English. You can see other hints of this in other phrases as well, like in "My lawful beloved, I thee wed." --Kjoonlee 03:05, 15 November 2010 (UTC)
Suggestive of German sentence constructrion, ja?. Another example is the poem "Frog he would a wooing go." (a real frog, not a Frenchman) Like Yoda they speak. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 03:59, 15 November 2010 (UTC)
See Inaugural address of John F. Kennedy#Notable passages:
"Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country".
Wavelength (talk) 04:16, 15 November 2010 (UTC)
See and hear YouTube - Petula Clark - This Is My Song 2001 (3:14), in which she sings the words "I care not what the world may say" just after 1:35 and again just after 2:35.
Wavelength (talk) 05:46, 15 November 2010 (UTC)
As a bonus, here are some websites to help you in learning English. (Comme geste supplémentaire, voici quelques sites Web pour vous aider dans l'apprentissage de l'anglais.)
Wavelength (talk) 06:51, 15 November 2010 (UTC)
There is also Thomas Wyatt's famous sonnet allegedly written about his thwarted romance with Anne Boleyn, Whoso List to Hunt which contains the Latin phrase Noli me tangere (touch me not).--Jeanne Boleyn (talk) 07:08, 15 November 2010 (UTC)
See Noli me tangere. -- Wavelength (talk) 07:20, 15 November 2010 (UTC)
See also Touch me not. -- Wavelength (talk) 15:48, 15 November 2010 (UTC)
I really don't see what noli me tangere has to do with the inversion of order in touch me not. It's an entirely different construction. The closest word-by-word rendering would be "do not wish me to touch". (I think this is the usual negative imperative in Latin — rather than telling someone not to do something, for which I'm not sure there's even a syntax, you tell him/her not to want to do it. This is possible because of the verb nolere, which means "to want not to". --Trovatore (talk) 00:31, 16 November 2010 (UTC)
Yes, there is a syntax for negative imperatives besides noli(te) + imperative. You can also use cave(te) + present subjunctive (e.g. cave festines "do not hasten") and ne + perfect subjunctive (e.g. hoc ne feceris "do not do that"). —Angr (talk) 21:23, 16 November 2010 (UTC)
Ah, thanks. Do you have a sense for which was the most "ordinary" construction? Say in the Classical period, if it matters. --Trovatore (talk) 21:27, 16 November 2010 (UTC)
Noli(te) + infinitive is the most common construction in Classical prose. By the way, I'm getting all of this from Allen & Greenough's New Latin Grammar (1903 edition). —Angr (talk) 21:47, 16 November 2010 (UTC)
"Verb not" is an anomalous construction in (older) English grammar, as normally modifiers in English precede what they modify. (It seems to have arisen by a similar process to French 'pas'). The inexorable narrowing of the range of "verb not" in favour of "do not verb" (in modern English, complete except for auxiliaries and words which can be auxiliaries) may be in part the reassertion of the canonical order (OR). --ColinFine (talk) 14:49, 15 November 2010 (UTC)
I'd have to say Forget Me Not is a real dumb title for a grammar book aimed at English-as-a-second-langauge students. It's like using a word that doesn't follow standard English pronunciation rules for a TV show that teaches children how to read. -- Mwalcoff (talk) 23:47, 15 November 2010 (UTC)
History of Sesame Street#Development (permanent link here), paragraph 5 of 6, says: "They finally settled upon Sesame Street, inspired by Ali Baba's magical phrase, and although there had been concerns that it would be too difficult for young children to pronounce, it was the name that they least disliked." History of Sesame Street#Beginnings, paragraph 6 of 8, says "the focus on the new show was on children from disadvantaged backgrounds, but the show's creators recognized that in order to achieve the kind of success they wanted, they needed to encourage all children, no matter what their background, to watch it." The title might have given an advantage to children whose first language was not English.
Wavelength (talk) 22:42, 16 November 2010 (UTC)
We don't generally think of it this way, but "not" after "do" simply shifts the trailing "not" to a different verb. This is highlighted when Yoda says, "There is no 'try'. Do, or do not." ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots

Hello. I'm the French OP, thank you very much for all these explainations that confirm (to ?) us that this title is, as one of you said, a DUMB title. Jojodesbatignoles. Rheims-France.-- (talk) 22:31, 18 November 2010 (UTC)

Haitian Creole grammar[edit]

Hi. I am working on writing lyrics in Haitian Creole language, but I am not certain of Google Translate's efficacy in converting from French to Haitian Creole ALPHA. Please check over the following selected verses below and see whether they make grammatical sense.

Mwen panse li te swasant-douz an
Mwen panse li gen yon rezon
Pou ou menm ak tout moun yo
Sa fè yo, mwen vle nou contentons
Lè nou chache yo toupatou
Se te yon tranbleman Terriens
Kisa nou t sou preparasyon
Mwen konnen yo, men sa nou ayons
Lè nou te la kenbe
Mwen ka sa yo fè yon kay
Nou bezwen pou rete
Men, yo p'ap cochons yo t gwo
Ak èd an rive a se, si dousman
Jodi a, li fè cho
Kote se nou békàns
Lapli ki rive yo, se tankou yon mòd

Thanks. ~AH1(TCU) 03:00, 15 November 2010 (UTC)

Is there any user category for Haitian Creole-speaking Wikipedians? Alternatively, are there any techniques I could use to identify grammatical issues or a website similar to BonPatron in French for Haitian Creole? Thanks. ~AH1(TCU) 01:53, 17 November 2010 (UTC)
See Category:User ht. -- Wavelength (talk) 02:22, 17 November 2010 (UTC)

Portuguese Translation[edit]

En aquél lugar vivía el infante Fernando, el cuál heredó todos los bienes de D. Mencía y además entró en disputa por las herencias de Sancho II.[6] Falleció en Palencia, según la tradición, lugar donde poseía sus tierras, y fue sepultada en la Capilla de la Cruz en el Monasterio de Santa María, Nájera. Sobre la tumba estaba un soporte con cuatro leones y con las armas de Portugal en el centro. Fernando insistió que en seis capillas se hiciera una misa diaria por su muerte.

Can someone translate this? Thanks--Queen Elizabeth II's Little Spy (talk) 03:06, 15 November 2010 (UTC)

This is Spanish. Something like "In that place lived the child Fernando, who inherited all the property of D. Mencía and also came into dispute over the inheritance of Sancho II.[6] He died in Palencia, according to the tradition, a place where he owned land, and was buried in the Chapel of the Cross in the Monastery of Santa María, Nájera. On the tomb was a stand with four lions and the arms of Portugal in the center. Fernando insisted that in six chapels a daily mass was to be made for his death." Lexicografía (talk) 03:15, 15 November 2010 (UTC)
Oops sorry. But do you mean She?--Queen Elizabeth II's Little Spy (talk) 03:51, 15 November 2010 (UTC)
"Fernando" is a male name. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 03:56, 15 November 2010 (UTC)
Sepultada "buried" refers to a female. Fernando is the subject of the first sentence, but D. (Doña?) Mencía died and was buried. -- the Great Gavini 06:12, 15 November 2010 (UTC)
I think it was also her death, not his own, for which a daily mass was to be said in six chapels. So she died in Palencia, a place where she owned land, and a daily mass was to be made for her death. —Angr (talk) 07:22, 15 November 2010 (UTC)
Those null subject languages, eh? Couple of other things: 1) Does one "make" mass in English? Would "...was to be said for his death" work better? Or "performed", or whatever other verb. 2) A little anglicisation might be necessary. Our article lusocises (or whatever) Mencía as Mécia. The other names seem to be fine; whether Fernando is called Ferdinand in English, I don't know. -- the Great Gavini 13:43, 15 November 2010 (UTC)
Yes, "said". --ColinFine (talk) 14:53, 15 November 2010 (UTC)
That would be normal English usage. Hacer means either "to do" or "to make", so se hiciera could also be translated as "was to be done". ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 14:57, 15 November 2010 (UTC)
Sorry about the he/she mixup. An idiomatic translation would probably be "was to be said" but "hacer" literally means "do" or "make" (as Baseball Bugs pointed out) Lexicografía (talk) 15:24, 15 November 2010 (UTC)
"Sorry"? If I apologised for every mistake I made on Wikipedia, my edit count would be astronomical. -- the Great Gavini 16:39, 15 November 2010 (UTC)
The (or a) source for that quotation is this Spanish Wikipedia article[1] about a Dama Mencía, so it is indeed female. At first I thought someone was making a pun on "dementia", but apparently not. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 14:55, 15 November 2010 (UTC)
Here[2] is Google translate's version, and they got the "he" and "she" wrong also. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 15:03, 15 November 2010 (UTC)
Yes, on a fast reading, I would assume the male gender if not for the femenine desinence. Pallida  Mors 20:50, 16 November 2010 (UTC)

Looking for a word[edit]

in light of the crisis facing etymonline, what is a good word to describe the IRS? (talk) 10:35, 15 November 2010 (UTC)

Thorough? The linked blog entry about the issue makes it a little clearer. It's a little unfortunate, sure, but taxation is taxation, and if you are naive about it you will get bitten. Had the tax forms been completed correctly, it is likely that etymonline would have no debt to the IRS. --Tagishsimon (talk) 10:44, 15 November 2010 (UTC)
Oh dear. We should take it as a lesson why Wikipedia should never, ever, ever allow ads (and neither should anyone else). Pais (talk) 11:52, 15 November 2010 (UTC)
That's carrying it a bit far, don't you think? I'm sure the Wikimedia Foundation hires accountants that properly handle taxes and things, so if Wikipedia were to have ads we shouldn't run into trouble with the IRS. Of course, I am also opposed to the idea of Wikipedia having ads, but not because of potential tax problems. —Bkell (talk) 13:00, 15 November 2010 (UTC)
Unforeseen? I myself only heard about it here - shocking stuff, indeed. If Harper's magnum opus goes down, on the etymological research front, we still have the Century Dictionary Online [], we've a few good anonymous editors on Wiktionary and some odds and ends. That's my tuppence and a bit. -- the Great Gavini 13:50, 15 November 2010 (UTC)

A better question is, what's the word for someone who gets income and somehow thinks it's non-taxable? ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 14:58, 15 November 2010 (UTC)

[Wikipedia has more than 500 pages which link to Maybe they all need to be updated with links to the Wayback Machine at
Wavelength (talk) 15:57, 15 November 2010 (UTC)]
Read more thoroughly, Bugs. He didn't think it was non-taxable; he just reported it as extra income rather than self-employment income. —Bkell (talk) 16:17, 15 November 2010 (UTC)
If you're earning money from people clicking on something on the internet, then you're running a business. Given that simple fact, the owner of EO shouldn't be shocked. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 18:41, 15 November 2010 (UTC)
This is relevant to Network neutrality in the United States. -- Wavelength (talk) 16:34, 15 November 2010 (UTC)]
How is it relevant to network neutrality? The two topics have nothing to do with each other. Comet Tuttle (talk) 16:37, 15 November 2010 (UTC)
NN requires more government regulation, which leads to more spending, which leads to a need for more revenue, which leads to more "thorough" enforcement of tax laws. Or something like that. What, were you expecting me to say net neutrality helps people? -- the Great Gavini 16:44, 15 November 2010 (UTC)
Just as Internet service rates can squeeze out low-income consumers, so likewise tax rates can squeeze out low-income consumers.
Wavelength (talk) 18:46, 15 November 2010 (UTC)
Rrrright, but so do rates for cars, caviar, and moonshine; and your observation has nothing to do with net neutrality. Comet Tuttle (talk) 19:29, 15 November 2010 (UTC)
Now it is possible to sponsor a word at -- Wavelength (talk) 07:51, 16 November 2010 (UTC)
Before the economic crisis was somewhat remedied by the sponsorship of words, the situation was discussed on the following page.
Wavelength (talk) 21:25, 19 November 2010 (UTC)

Too/overly minimal pairs[edit]

I grew up using the word "overly" and I intuitively regard it as distinct from both "too" and "excessively". But I can't pin down how it's different. There are many adjectives I would never pair it with (*overly fat, *overly frequent), some adjectives with which I might use it ("overly conservative"), and there are other circumstances in which I would always use it ("overly familiar", "overly excited", "overly inquisitive"). Its use is apparently more literal and restricted than "too", and although "overly" can be replaced by "too" more often than "too" can be replaced by "overly", there are circumstances in which it is not possible to replace "overly" with "too": ("overly excited" ≠ "too excited"). I think that this latter point is often lost on Commonwealth speakers, for whom "overly" is just an annoying superfluity. I would like to come up with some minimal pairs to define and illustrate the distinction, and determine what it is about certain adjectives that dictates the use of "overly". Any ideas? LANTZYTALK 17:40, 15 November 2010 (UTC)

Ontario English speaker here. I don't think of them as being particularly distinct, though I suppose I'd regard "overly" and "excessively" as being a bit fancier and/or verbose depending on context. I would, for example, have no problem with expressions like "too excited" or "too familiar" ("I'm not too excited about these recent changes... I'm not too familiar with these procedures.") I wouldn't normally use expressions like "overly fat" or "overly frequent", but only because they sound verbose to me; I wouldn't consider them incorrect and I might employ them (for example) if I wanted to affect the style of someone giving a longwinded speech, perhaps. All of which is a long way of saying that my list of minimal pairs would include most adjectives and adverbs. (talk) 18:05, 15 November 2010 (UTC)
I didn't mean that I wouldn't use expressions like "too excited" or "too familiar", merely that they would signify something unambiguously different from "overly excited" and "overly familiar". For example, contrast "I'm not too familiar with the age of consent" to "I'm not overly familiar with your daughter". LANTZYTALK 18:25, 15 November 2010 (UTC)
Perhaps something in the stress pattern, where 'too' would sound odd not because of a shade of meaning but an aesthetic in pronunciation. 'overly excited', 'overly inquisitive'... Lexicografía (talk) 18:32, 15 November 2010 (UTC)
What distinction do you see between "overly excited" and "excessively excited", Lantzy? (And, as one who's not a fan of overly, I might ask, Why not overfamiliar, overexcited, or overinquisitive rather than the adjectives preceded by overly?) Deor (talk) 02:18, 16 November 2010 (UTC)
Frankly, the difference between "overly excited" and "excessively excited" is that the second one sounds weird. (The Ghit ratio confirms my suspicion: 1,140,000 to 27,000) I'm beginning to form a hypothesis that maybe "overly" is more often used in reference to changeable human qualities, while "too" and "excessively" are more often used for inanimate and inalienable qualities. As for "overfamiliar" and "overinquisitive", although I concede their cromulence, they simply aren't part of my speaking vocabulary. I have no better reason for not using them. LANTZYTALK 05:50, 16 November 2010 (UTC)