Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Language/2012 May 2

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May 2[edit]

Meaning of cochorn[edit]


What is the meaning of the word 'cochorn'. I have come across it in the Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant. The passage with the word is as follows:

"There were no mortars with the besiegers, except what the navy had in front of the city; but wooden ones were made by taking logs of the toughest wood that could be found, boring them out for six or twelve pound shells and binding them with strong iron bands. These answered as cochorns, and shells were successfully thrown from them into the trenches of the enemy."

Thank you. Gulielmus estavius (talk) 18:29, 2 May 2012 (UTC)

It's apparently a OCR misreading of Coehorn, a type of mortar. Dominus Vobisdu (talk) 18:52, 2 May 2012 (UTC)
That's a cautionary note. It's how language mysteries arise. This kind of thing used to happen with living copyists. Now it's being done by machine. That's called "progress". :) ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 11:19, 3 May 2012 (UTC)


Could someone help in figuring out the English lyrics of this song, starting from 36:35? I searched for some plausible phrases, but failed to find the song. Brandmeistertalk 19:02, 2 May 2012 (UTC)

Congratulations on finding "plausible phrases"! I cannot make any sense of it, or even tell that it is English. I suspect the only way you will find the answer is if someone actually recognises the song ... — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:54, 2 May 2012 (UTC)
Got it now, One Hidden Frame - Tourist of Huntsville. Brandmeistertalk 22:54, 2 May 2012 (UTC)

-ery and other things[edit]

Yesterday I came across the word "thievery". It is infrequently used (and the exact difference between that and "theft" might bear examination) and it reminded me of some questions I've wondered about.

archery, bakery, bravery, cutlery, drudgery, nunnery, pottery, finery, scenery, slavery, trickery, winery, etc.....
I'm immediately reminded of one of the wonderful counting series in Alastair Reid's book Ounce, Dice, Trice. IIRC it goes "archery, butchery, treachery, taproom, tomb, sink, sentiment, apron, nunnery, density", but I may be conflating two of the series. --ColinFine (talk) 16:09, 3 May 2012 (UTC)
  • Where would I find a fairly comprehensive list of instances of this suffix in English? Books? The web? An article in a periodical? What kind of reference book would be the place to look for stuff like this?
  • Would I be right in thinking that the French and German forms of this suffix (-erie, -erei) are much more frequently used in those languages than is the English version in English?
  • On to broader questions: The "-ery" suffix is not very productive, i.e. one doesn't see people every day freely creating new words by tacking it on to the end of some word, in the way that, for example, if a new verb comes into usage, say xyxyxyx, then people freely put the "-ing" suffix on it. ("He cannot xyxyxyx today." "But he's already xyxyxyxing.") The English language seems to have many of these islands of non-productive forms that have patterns. E.g. see initial-stress-derived noun, and realize that people don't create new instance of that phenomenon by freely applying it where it has not been applied before, the way they do with "-ing". Is there a compiled list of such things in some reference work, which aims more for comprehensiveness than for exemplification and explication, and for each one of those a list of words or phrases in which it occurs? Another such example is "devise"--->"device", "believe"--->"belief", "prove"--->"proof", "breathe" (voiced "th" pronounced as in "either")--->"breath" (voiceless "th" pronounced as in "ether"), "use" with "s" as in "as"--->"use" with "s" as in "ass", etc. I think there may be at least a couple of dozen of those. Productive in former centuries; still existing in non-productive form today.

Michael Hardy (talk) 19:18, 2 May 2012 (UTC)

I don't have any specific answers, just wanted to point out that Merriam-Webster lists five distinct meanings for the -ery suffix, although with a common etymology. Unfortunately, M-W online provides no meaningful etymological links. Now, on with the tomfoolery! --LarryMac | Talk 19:25, 2 May 2012 (UTC)
See*ery&ls=a and
Wavelength (talk) 19:42, 2 May 2012 (UTC)
Interesting. Not all of the words listed are really examples of the suffix, since "aery" is there. But it works a lot better than with "-ling", since _most_ words ending with "-ling" are not instances of the "-ling" suffix (e.g. "killing", "cuddling", etc., are not). Michael Hardy (talk) 21:04, 2 May 2012 (UTC)
.....and it now occurs to me that devilry and dentistry are genuine examples of the use of this suffix even though the "e" is missing. Michael Hardy (talk) 21:27, 2 May 2012 (UTC)
There's also bastardry. -- ♬ Jack of Oz[your turn] 22:02, 2 May 2012 (UTC)
I was going to suggest the 4chanism "faggotry" as an example of the suffix still being used to create new words. - filelakeshoe 08:14, 3 May 2012 (UTC)
I think you're underestimating the current productiveness of the -ery suffix, Michael. In a brief search of the Web, I'm noticing (in some cases, multiple instances of) WTF-ery, badass-ery, pseudo-feel-good-ery, kung-fu-ery, and the like. I have a feeling that this may have something to do with the form of speech used in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (see this TV Tropes page), although my recollection is that -age was the suffix most productively used therein (slayage, snackage, etc.). Deor (talk) 16:36, 3 May 2012 (UTC)

You might have already thought of this, but perusing these categories on Wiktionary might bear some fruit, the individual articles should contain phrases. - filelakeshoe 21:21, 2 May 2012 (UTC)

EO[1] says that the "-ery" suffix comes from the French "-erie" which comes from the Latin "-arius", and that it means "place for, art of, condition of, quantity of." The "-ary" suffix is related.[2] Hard telling what one should call a bakery if not "bakery". ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 00:16, 3 May 2012 (UTC)

You can do better than that, Bugs. A place where we cook/sleep/bathe/excrete is not called a cookery/sleepery/bathery/excretery; and a pantry is not a place where we go to pant. But maybe a bedroom could validly be called a "jiggery-pokery". :) Sorry for my effrontery. -- ♬ Jack of Oz[your turn] 01:51, 3 May 2012 (UTC)
I didn't invent English, I'm just trying to use it as-is. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 11:17, 3 May 2012 (UTC)

The first book I'd look at would be the second (1969) edition of The Categories and Types of Present-Day English Word-Formation, by Hans Marchand. Despite its dry title, it can be used easily as a memory-jogger. It is of course forty-plus years old, and a host of things have been thought of since its publication, but it's still a most impressive piece of work and should be in any university or other large library. (However, you should know that my opinion of the notability of its author is not universal among Wikipedia contributors.)

A bit of duckduckgoing should locate various files in which people have amassed huge lists of "English" "words" (with various understandings of "English" and "word"). (I have one that clocks in at about 4MB, but sorry I forget where it's from.) You could then use grep to create a much shorter list of strings including "ery", rev to invert every string (so that "thievery" would become "yreveiht"), sort to order these, a text editor to delete every line not starting "yre", rev a second time to put the strings back in order, and sort a second time to put the list into alphabetical order. All easy in Linux, Mac OS X or (via Cygwin or some alternative) Windows. (And of course anyone who, unlike me, has half a brain could give you a single simple perl script that would accomplish all of this.) -- Hoary (talk) 02:09, 3 May 2012 (UTC)

I would object to -ery no longer being productive; badassery has more than a million g-hits. Matt Deres (talk) 17:20, 3 May 2012 (UTC)

Not to mention "fuckery"... --TammyMoet (talk) 20:16, 3 May 2012 (UTC)
Some people pronounce "jewellery" as "jillery". Which gives rises to multiple musings. A collection of Jills? I left Jill in the jillery. A characteristic behaviour of Jills? Jill's up to her jillery again. A production facility for Jills? I bought a new Jill from the jillery. Itsmejudith (talk) 20:26, 3 May 2012 (UTC)
I couldn't possibly comment. -- ♬ Jack of Oz[your turn] 23:06, 3 May 2012 (UTC)
Jack and Jillery went up the Hilary... (talk) 02:25, 4 May 2012 (UTC)
No, that was Billary. -- ♬ Jack of Oz[your turn] 08:18, 4 May 2012 (UTC)

Difference between "repetitive and "repetitious"[edit]

Is there any significant difference between "repetitive" and "repetitious" in definition. One of my bus driver called me "repetitious" because I ask him the question multiple times about the announcement system and I talk all the way on the bus about traffic lights- red lights, green lights, yellow lights, blue lights, orange lights. At school I have been called "repetitive" and can be identified as "repetitious" because at school when I meet people I just go 24 hours discussing to them about traffic lights-red lights, green lights, yellow lights, blue lights, orange lights constantly. Does repetitive and repetitious describes definition like "repetition" is moderate level, repetitive is more to a stronger degree of repetition, and repetitious is repeating in profound degree. -- (talk) 22:55, 2 May 2012 (UTC)

To me the first one isn't necessarily bad: "Students learn best by repetitive action". The second one always means it's annoying, sort of "repetitive" and "monotonous". StuRat (talk) 23:00, 2 May 2012 (UTC)
I think it's more about the doer vs. the action. A repetitious person is one who does things repetitively. Actions are repetitive, not repetitious; people are repetitious, not repetitive. -- ♬ Jack of Oz[your turn] 01:43, 3 May 2012 (UTC)
Still, repetitious has a faint odor, a miasmic redolence, nay a whiff of putrescence, of underlying annoyance about it. Clarityfiend (talk) 01:08, 4 May 2012 (UTC)
You may want to read up on Asbergers syndrome and consider adopting a less obviously monomaniacal topic of conversation. Perhaps some social skills training would be helpful. If you're less repetitive, you won't have to worry about being labelled repetitious. - Nunh-huh 06:16, 3 May 2012 (UTC)
The OP asked for an answer to a language question, not an amateur psychological diagnosis and counselling. I wish people would keep these borderline ad-hominems off the reference desk, and wish people would stop trying to diagnose people with psychological disorders over the internet. It's disgusting. - filelakeshoe 08:04, 3 May 2012 (UTC)
You're just saying that because your mother withheld affection from you as a child. :-) StuRat (talk) 08:08, 3 May 2012 (UTC)

Hellenic Language link in front page of[edit]

Why don't we have the option to choose Hellenic (Greek - in case You don't know what hellenic means) Language from the front page ??? of !!! ??? THank You !! — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:45, 2 May 2012 (UTC)

There's an article for Greek Wikipedia, which is up for deletion for some reason, but in any case the URL appears to be [3] If you go to the main page, there is an entry for "Ελληνικά", which takes you to that URL. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 23:58, 2 May 2012 (UTC)
Only the most popular Wikipedias are listed there. StuRat (talk) 02:34, 3 May 2012 (UTC)
What do you mean? As Baseball Bugs says, there's a link to Greek Wikipedia on the language bar at the left, and another at the bottom of the main page[4] under "Wikipedia languages" section "More than 50,000 articles:". There's also a link to the complete list of wikipedias in every language. If you can't see the language bar on the left, clicking on the word "Languages" will show/hide the list. --Colapeninsula (talk) 10:50, 3 May 2012 (UTC)
The question related to, which redirects to, on which there is a distinct absence of Greek. Bazza (talk) 12:36, 3 May 2012 (UTC)
I can see it. Second set down (10 000+ articles) just after Eesti. (talk) 12:56, 3 May 2012 (UTC)
Not on, which is what the OP's question was about. Bazza (talk) 13:08, 3 May 2012 (UTC)
I don't see a page at - it automatically redirects to, which contains Ελληνικά as 128.232 says. --ColinFine (talk) 16:15, 3 May 2012 (UTC)
Yes, Ελληνικά isn't in the circle at top, but in the list below. The circle contains the top ten languages by number of articles, almost—Chinese, which is number 12, seems to have bumped out Dutch, which is number 4. I suppose someone decided to make an exception for the most-spoken world language? At any rate, 85.135, you'll have to write about 700,000 new articles if you want Greek up at the top! Lesgles (talk) 19:57, 3 May 2012 (UTC)