Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Language/2011 August 23

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August 23[edit]

If wishes were horses ...[edit]

My Mom use to always say "If wishes were horses, beggers would ride" to my sisters & I whenever we said "I wish" ......Could you tell me where it originated from? Thank you, (email redacted) — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:21, 23 August 2011 (UTC)

We actually have an article about that saying, just click If wishes were horses, beggars would ride. --LarryMac | Talk 15:33, 23 August 2011 (UTC)

IPA pronunciation[edit]

Is there a WikiProject or list of users who specialize in adding IPA pronunciations to articles on request? I know a few articles that could probably benefit from it, as they have non-intuitive pronunciations, but I don't really understand IPA well enough to add them myself. Acdixon (talk contribs count) 15:22, 23 August 2011 (UTC)

See Category:User ipa.
Wavelength (talk) 16:05, 23 August 2011 (UTC)
And WP:WikiProject Phonetics. Pais (talk) 16:38, 23 August 2011 (UTC)
Great! Thanks to you both. Acdixon (talk contribs count) 17:19, 23 August 2011 (UTC)

Standard form[edit]

"Fails to keep updating employees about current information on deposit rates, company’s financial performance"
Is it correct ?-- (talk) 15:40, 23 August 2011 (UTC)

It isn't awful, but "fails to keep updating" is awkward and ambiguous. I suggest, "fails to regularly update employees with current information on deposit rates and company's financial performance".
Do you mean "the company's financial performance"? Or "companies' financial performance" (more than one company)? If you are referring to just one company, I would insert "the". Also, I think that splitting the infinitive, in this case, is a bit awkward, so I would suggest the following:
"Fails to update employees regularly with current information on deposit rates and the company's financial performance" (or "...and companies' financial performance") Marco polo (talk) 16:23, 23 August 2011 (UTC)
Yes, "fails to update employees regularly" is exactly what I thought before seeing that the others had said the same above. μηδείς (talk) 17:17, 23 August 2011 (UTC)
Marco Polo, are you regarding "to keep updating" as a split infinitive? It's not. The infinitive is "to keep", and "updating" is an auxiliary verb. -- Jack of Oz [your turn] 21:20, 23 August 2011 (UTC)
    • Thanks. But I have something to say about "regularly". Does that mean on regular basis?? I mean updating information and performance whenever company updates them. It can happen each after one month, two or three months?-- (talk) 18:08, 23 August 2011 (UTC)
In that case, how about "Fails to keep employees up to date with current information..."? That should cover the meaning I think you intend. Marco polo (talk) 18:54, 23 August 2011 (UTC)
"Keep" updating implies "regularly". If he does it on occasion he can complain that he does indeed update them (when he feels like it), but not regularly. μηδείς (talk) 22:46, 23 August 2011 (UTC)
Which would be why Marco Polo's version doesn't say "fails to keep updating employees with current information..." but "fails to keep employees up to date with current information...". The first version, besides being clumsy English, would have the problem that you say, which using 'regularly' would also have. Marco Polo's version does not have this problem, as it addresses the problem of the employees not being kept up to date, so that there is more recent information they have not been given. (talk) 09:17, 24 August 2011 (UTC)

祖 and ワィ (Japanese)[edit]

Hi, I understand that the basic meaning of 祖 is "ancestor", but what is its significance in this picture?

I'm guessing that ワィ is just "Wi" for Wikipedia, even though the puzzle piece on the actual logo is ウィ. Does that seem right? The katakana article doesn't seem to give ワィ as an option for "wi" though. Should it? (talk) 16:47, 23 August 2011 (UTC)

She has "grampa" in her hair? I suppose it could be moto or hazime, but it's odd.
I've never seen anyone write wi like that. — kwami (talk) 17:09, 23 August 2011 (UTC)
祖 and ワィ were the only Japanese(/Chinese) characters on the old puzzle-ball logo, hence their use on Wikipe-tan. ワィ was an accidental misspelling of ウィ. I don't know why 祖 was chosen—probably at random. It also seems to be incorrectly written, using the radical 衤 instead of 礻. Maybe that's where the missing stroke from ウィ went. -- BenRG (talk) 23:36, 23 August 2011 (UTC)
Thanks Ben! I see that 袓 is actually a valid Chinese character, apparently meaning "good" or "beautiful" ( As far as I can tell, though, it is not used in Japanese, so perhaps the Wikipe-tan designer chose the "nearest" kanji. It seems surprising that ワィ wasn't corrected for Wikipe-tan, since as far as I can tell the designer was a native Japanese speaker. (talk) 00:51, 24 August 2011 (UTC)


G-dropping has a long history in the English language, but d-dropping is relatively new, in my experience. Apparently as a result of young people spending more time at being entertained than at being educated, and the ability of a /d/ sound to disappear between an /s/ sound (or a /z/ sound or a /ʒ/ sound or a /ʃ/ sound) and a /t/ sound, I have been seeing the letter omitted from expressions like those listed below. This can happen when they include verbs in the past tense, but especially when they include past participles (as in is/are/was/were supposed to). Of the words which I have listed here, I found most at It seems to me that some people actually do not know the correct spelling. Even when the past-tense verb or past participle is not followed directly by the word to, sometimes the d is dropped from a word that should have it.

  • supposed to, forced to, advanced to, convinced to, announced to, enticed to, induced to, introduced to, sourced to, reduced to, increased to, decreased to, traced to, ceased to, dispensed to, dispersed to, asked to, passed to (See Note 1)
  • used to ("was accustomed to; utilized to"), pleased to, advised to, authorized to (authorised to), disclosed to, exposed to, proposed to, opposed to, refused to, generalized to (generalised to), advertised to, paused to, poised to, espoused to, surprised to, televised to, closed to (see Note 2)
  • changed to, charged to, enlarged to, acknowledged to, judged to, engaged to, divulged to, diverged to, emerged to, managed to, outraged to, pledged to, surged to, urged to
  • attached to, dispatched to, hitched to, latched to, matched to, pitched to, preached to, reached to, stretched to, switched to, abashed to, banished to, crushed to, dashed to, demolished to, diminished to, embellished to, established to, leashed to, published to, vanished to, wished to

Note 1: The expression closed to ("shut to, unopened to; blockaded to") should not be confused with the expression close to ("near to").
Note 2: The expression passed to ("moved to", transitive or intransitive) should not be confused with the expression past to ("onward to").

This problem can occur also with /l/, /m/, /n/, and /r/: thrilled to, claimed to, inclined to, ordered to. I have not spent time in searching for more examples of these, but I am willing to do so on request.

Has d-dropping been especially popularized by any particular entertainer(s)?
Wavelength (talk) 18:58, 23 August 2011 (UTC)

This is a case of positional assimilation or elision, not a general case of dropping regardless of position as is g-dropping. μηδείς (talk) 01:10, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
Many of Wavelength's examples have never been pronounced with a /d/ in modern English. Following an unvoiced consonant, the suffix "-ed" is usually realised /t/, as in "announced", "enticed", "pitched", "reached", "banished", "wished", "passed".
It's common for older people to try and blame society's ills on rap music, but (as Medeis mentions) assimilation of voiced to voiceless sounds is common in many languages, from French to Japanese. --Colapeninsula (talk) 12:14, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
Yes, many of the examples involve the sound /t/, but, in writing, it is the letter <d> that is sometimes omitted. This could be from a lack of familiarity with correct spelling. It could be from a linguistic background (maybe Chinese) with a different way of expressing grammatical tense. Hispanophones who have difficulty in pronouncing a final /d/ or /t/ might contribute to misunderstanding in the minds of some people who hear them speak.
Wavelength (talk) 18:10, 24 August 2011 (UTC)

Spelling of “magick”[edit]

who changed the spelling of magick" with a k" — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:58, 23 August 2011 (UTC)

See Magick. Deor (talk) 20:07, 23 August 2011 (UTC)
Noah Webster introduced the spelling reform of -ick > -ic in Latinate words, as with -our > -or and -re > -er. μηδείς (talk) 20:37, 23 August 2011 (UTC)
Oh, so then he was probably born Noah Webstre? —Akrabbimtalk 01:34, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
"-ic" may have been adopted by Webster, but since it is worldwide it seems rather unlikely that it was he that introduced it: non-American Englishes have not usually been eager to adopt his innovations. --ColinFine (talk) 22:39, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
In the preface to his dictionary, Webster wrote, "Fortunately, most modern writers have rejected the k from words in which it is useless; and it is desirable that dictionaries should add their authority to the practice" (more at [1]). So it seems that other writers had made the step before him. Lesgles (talk) 04:43, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
Supposedly when Sheridan presented then published The Critic, it was notable that he didn't include a final "k"... AnonMoos (talk) 22:00, 27 August 2011 (UTC)