Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Language/2011 December 8

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December 8[edit]

No mention[edit]

Is the usage of word "No mention" justified as a reply for Thank you? Is it correct? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:46, 8 December 2011 (UTC)

It would be more correct to say "Don't mention it", meaning "It's not necessary for you to thank me". — Cheers, JackLee talk 10:48, 8 December 2011 (UTC)
Note that it is a polite fiction and will not to be taken literally.--Shantavira|feed me 11:07, 8 December 2011 (UTC)
Yes, it's a polite way of responding to a person who thanks you. A more formal response is "You're welcome". If you were Australian, "No worries [mate]" would work too. — Cheers, JackLee talk 12:53, 8 December 2011 (UTC)
I don't believe I have ever heard "No mention" used in this way, and if I heard it I would think the speaker had an imperfect grasp of English, and had probably misremembered "Don't mention it", or had confused that phrase with "No problem" (or the Australian "No worries", as Jack says). --ColinFine (talk) 00:37, 9 December 2011 (UTC)
Just curios about this "No worries (mate)" response. Do women usually add "mate"? I've never heard of women adding "mate". I just hear them saying "Don't mention it./ No worries./You're welcome." — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:32, 9 December 2011 (UTC)
Yep, plenty of women (in Aust) use "mate", I'd say more so in country areas, and/or where they regard the person they're talking to as somewhat inferior, e.g., when speaking to a child. On the other hand, and perhaps contrary to popular conceptions, many Australian men rarely if ever use "mate", or would only use it in certain specific situations; ironically this would often be in cases where there's a certain amount of aggression involved and they regard the other person as anything but a 'mate'. --jjron (talk) 06:20, 9 December 2011 (UTC)

One Sentence Paragraphs[edit]

When I was at school any one sentence paragraphs would result in the "red pen" warning that I had transgressed some rule of writing. Yet many Wikipedia articles contain single sentence paragraphs, and in a lot of cases avoiding them would require unnecessary linking or expansion.

Are one sentence paragraphs considered acceptable nowadays? -- Q Chris (talk) 13:31, 8 December 2011 (UTC)

They always have been. Rules of writing that teachers impose at school have no relationship with reality and are best forgotten as soon as that teacher's class is over. Pais (talk) 13:56, 8 December 2011 (UTC)
It's even mentioned in our list of common English usage misconceptions where the notion that "paragraphs must comprise at least three sentences" is said to be a "myth". ---Sluzzelin talk 14:03, 8 December 2011 (UTC)
Almost all newspapers (our reliable sources) routinely use one sentence paragraphs these days. HiLo48 (talk) 17:58, 8 December 2011 (UTC)
In my journalism classes, I was taught that the lede paragraph of a news story should be one sentence if possible.Then expand to longer paragraphs for the details. — Michael J 18:33, 8 December 2011 (UTC)
There are two competing concepts behind what defines a paragraph. One is that it should be a certain physical size, while the other is that it should contain a single thought. Actual paragraph sizes are usually some combo of these two concepts. Thus, if your thought takes 100 sentences to explain, then you need to break those up into many paragraphs. StuRat (talk) 19:21, 8 December 2011 (UTC)
Maybe this is something that has changed over the years. I've come across older (19th century) books where a single paragraph can span an entire page or more. This would be thought very inappropriate today-- (talk) 21:08, 8 December 2011 (UTC)
Agreed. The eye can only distinguish something like 5-10 lines before having to count. This makes it difficult to keep your place in a paragraph longer than that, unless you resort to putting your finger on the page, much to the horror of anyone trying to preserve the book for posterity. StuRat (talk) 22:23, 8 December 2011 (UTC)
And just in defence of the original teacher, many teachers give simple black-and-white rules to help students improve their writing or whatever else it may be they're teaching. Enforce the 'paragraph must be more than one sentence' rule and you help deal with the common problem of kids not having a clue when to start a new paragraph, and help to enforce the 'paragraph should contain one thought' concept. Once the student's writing develops sufficiently they may then of course ignore all rules. (FWIW, of course we've also all been taught that you can't begin a sentence with "And".). --05:58, 9 December 2011 (UTC)

Word Describing the Outlawing of Homosexuality?[edit]

Is there a word for outlawing homosexuality or any other specific kind of sexual behavior that one advocates outlawing (for example 'anti-miscegenation')? Thank you. -- (talk) 20:55, 8 December 2011 (UTC)

Also, I should say that 'anti-sodomy' or 'anti-buggery' doesn't work since the former isn't necessarily homosexual and the latter is just sodomy with beastiality thrown in; and both of them are sexual acts, as opposed to sexual orientation. -- (talk) 21:05, 8 December 2011 (UTC)
The (non-pedantic) point being that homosexuality is not a sexual behaviour but a state of being. Homosexuality cannot be outlawed, just as thoughts and feelings, likes and dislikes, cannot be outlawed. Certain activities can be outlawed. -- Jack of Oz [your turn] 22:06, 8 December 2011 (UTC)
There must be a word to describe one of the oldest socially conservative impulses. Arguing about the practical ability to enforce thoughtcrimes doesn't really help me. How about a word for the impulse to make people stop doing activities the society doesn't approve of (with consenting adults behind closed doors, etc). And I mean attempts to use authority to enforce that, not just ostracizing or being sanctimonious. -- (talk) 23:12, 8 December 2011 (UTC)
Anti-sodomy is the most commonly used term in the United States. "Oldest socially conservative impulses" weren't directed specifically against homosexuals, but against the broad range of "unnatural" and "detestable" sexual activities, of which homosexual relations were the common denominator. In other words, sodomy laws outlawed unnatural sexual activities, which always included homosexual conduct between males, but may or may not have included any act between a man and a woman, depending on the time and the place. So either if you want a term for outlawing homosexuality, or a term for outlawing all sexual relations which aren't approved by the society, anti-sodomy is your best bet.--Itinerant1 (talk) 23:52, 8 December 2011 (UTC)
According to our article, sodomy law can be used to describe any law that outlaws any type of sex act, and it seems to be pretty widely used in academia. Beyond that, there doesn't seem to be anything catchy. Smurrayinchester 23:50, 8 December 2011 (UTC)
The term "sodomy law" is nowadays considered fairly archaic; but as recently as the 1970s was probably the term in broadest use by laypeople (if you'll pardon the expression) such as politicians, at least in the United States. --Orange Mike | Talk 00:30, 10 December 2011 (UTC)

"Heteronormativity" might work in a broad way to describe all attempts to stamp out the phenomenon of homosexuality, whether casually or by legislation. The concept is predicated on the acknowledgment of homosexuality as an identity, and it encompasses the entire modern anti-gay program: barring gay people from military service, denying legal recognition to same-sex couples, forbidding gay couples from adopting children, fostering "conversion therapy", etc. None of these issues are inherently related to "sodomy law", which merely overlaps with heteronormative legislation. LANTZYTALK 01:57, 9 December 2011 (UTC)

Number of Semitic roots[edit]

Approximately how many native Semitic roots are in active and common usage in:

I realise this question can hardly be answered with an exact number, but given the nature of Semitic morphology and the large potential of those languages to derive lexemes from existing roots, I'd think that a reasonably accurate value could have been worked out in some source (see Greenlandic language#Vocabulary for comparison), and that this question is less silly than: "How many words are there in English?" --Theurgist (talk) 22:24, 8 December 2011 (UTC)

I don't know, but probably the most easily-definable concrete interpretation of "active in common usage" (i.e. participating in root-and-pattern inflectional morphology) would be slightly different for Arabic and Hebrew, since in Arabic broken plurals would count, while in Hebrew only verbs would count (Hebrew does have historical remnants of broken plural formations in one particular case, but it's hard to say that this is synchronically-productive root-and-pattern morphology, especially in modern Hebrew). There would also be very strange roots like Z-N-G-F, the "root" of lehizdangef להזדנגף "to strut down Dizengoff Street"... AnonMoos (talk) 09:46, 9 December 2011 (UTC)
And in Arabic there are for example ʾ-M-R-K (ء-م-ر-ك), the root of taʾamraka تأمرك "to get Americanised", or H-T-L-R (ه-ت-ل-ر), the root of tahatlara تهتلر "to imitate Hitler". But those really don't qualify as native roots. This raises another problem, because some of the long-existing roots may have been borrowed too, for example from Coptic or other languages over the many centuries of development of Hebrew and Arabic... --Theurgist (talk) 12:43, 9 December 2011 (UTC)
taʾamraka follows in the tradition of old coinages as far back as mityahed in Esther 8:17, while lehizdangef is rather more bizarre (more comparable to basmala بسملة and ħamdala with strangely-formed quasi-pseudo-roots b-s-m-l and ħ-m-d-l). But you're right that I overlooked the word "native"... AnonMoos (talk) 13:08, 9 December 2011 (UTC)