Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Language/2012 May 8

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May 8[edit]

Pronunciation: where is the stress of "as if"? on "as" or on "if"?[edit] (talk) 13:53, 8 May 2012 (UTC)

Often, nowhere; i.e. the whole phrase is unstressed. But if anything is stressed it will be "if". The only case I can think of where "as" might be stressed is if "as" is being contrasted with something else, but I can't think what else that might be. --ColinFine (talk) 17:54, 8 May 2012 (UTC)
Generally unaccented; but strongly accented on "if" in the stand-alone slang expression "As if!" conveying disbelief or scorn. -- Elphion (talk) 17:58, 8 May 2012 (UTC)

french gender suffix[edit]


The infobox for fr:François Hollande gives his nationality as "Française". Should it not say "Français" since he is male? Or do I misunderstand how those suffixes are supposed to work? Does the suffix possibly refer to the country of France itself (in the feminine) rather than to the person possessing the nationality? Thanks. (talk) 21:54, 8 May 2012 (UTC)

The reason the feminine is used is because 'Nationalité' is feminine. Française is an adjective modifying 'nationalité': la nationalité Française. - Lindert (talk) 22:02, 8 May 2012 (UTC)
It's modifying "nationalité", which is feminine. -- Elphion (talk) 22:04, 8 May 2012 (UTC)
drat, a photo finish! -- Elphion (talk) 22:08, 8 May 2012 (UTC)
but in a phrase as above, that would be la nationalité française with lower case 'f'. -- Elphion (talk) 22:12, 8 May 2012 (UTC)

Thanks, that makes sense. (talk) 22:09, 8 May 2012 (UTC)

Why is it modifying "nationality"? It's Hollande himself who's being described, not the word "nationality". ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 22:30, 8 May 2012 (UTC)
Because the category is nationality; it's an issue of grammar, not of meaning. The infobox entry for nationality basically asks the question 'What nationality does Hollande have?' The answer to the question is 'French', and that is short for saying Hollande has the 'French nationality'. If the masculine is used, it would be an answer to the question 'What is Hollande?' and the answer would be 'a Frenchman', which would be 'un Français', i.e. the masculine form. - Lindert (talk) 23:12, 8 May 2012 (UTC)
(ec) Because the implied sentence is "His nationality is French", not "He is French". (talk) 23:13, 8 May 2012 (UTC)
(ec) I think that in this case it is Hollande's nationality which is being described, not Hollande. The other categories are mostly nouns, which seem to be a continuation of the category name (i.e. Parti politique: Parti socialiste), rather than a description of Holland ("membre du Parti Socialiste"). This must modify the category name (Political Party), because if it modified "François Hollande", it would be saying that he is the Socialist Party. Nevertheless, this just a guess; I've never had a rule concerning this formally explained to me. In any case, I'm not a native French speaker, so I would probably never have even picked up on it. Falconusp t c 23:18, 8 May 2012 (UTC)
Just to try explaining it another way for Bugs: If we say "He is French", we would say "Il est français" in French, because the adjective French modifies the masculine pronoun "he". If we say "His nationality is French", that's "Sa nationalité est française". Both the word "sa" and "française" are feminine because the word they modify "nationalité" is feminine. This is how French is different than English, in that French follows strict grammatical gender, while English follows personal gender. French does not have direct translations for "his/her"; instead the "sa/son" pair is modified NOT by the antecedant, but by the object. Thus always "son panatalon" but always "sa chemise", regardless of whether they are his shirt and pants, or her shirt and pants, and the adjectives follow the same rules. Its the grammatical gender of the words being modified that matters, not the personal gender of the person in question. --Jayron32 11:54, 9 May 2012 (UTC)
OK, I dig it. (Thank goddess we don't have this problem in English.) ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 12:34, 10 May 2012 (UTC)


What is the correct (insofar as there is such a thing) way to use this word? Can it always be used as a substitute for "even though" or "(al)though"? For example, could you say "Albeit I wanted the puppy, I did not adopt it."? It sounds funny to me used any way other than when "albeit" could be replaced with "although it be". (talk) 22:55, 8 May 2012 (UTC)

That does seem like an odd usage, how about "I wanted the puppy, albeit not as a pet. I was hungry." :-) StuRat (talk) 23:01, 8 May 2012 (UTC)
According to EO,[1] "albeit" is a centuries-old contraction of "although it be [that]." That was one of those semi-obscure words that William Buckley liked to toss out now and then. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 00:06, 9 May 2012 (UTC)
Googling "albeit" should produce many examples. One is this prissy "fight song" that Tom Lehrer wrote: "Fight fiercely, Harvard / Fight, fight, fight / Demonstrate to them our skill / Albeit they possess the might / Nonetheless we have the will! ..." One editor somewhere commented on Lehrer's "controversial—albeit hilarious—topical lyrics." ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 00:10, 9 May 2012 (UTC)
Albeit macht flei. —Tamfang (talk) 03:06, 10 May 2012 (UTC)
Victoira and Albeit. —Tamfang (talk) 03:07, 10 May 2012 (UTC)
As I understand it, albeit, is a contraction of although it be (and you can see the words in there: al-be-it), and it should be followed by something that could follow the verb be, such as an adjective or a noun. It cannot simply be used as a synonym for 'even though' or 'although' (it can be used as such in some contexts, albeit not in all). That's why your example of the puppy doesn't work, since albeit' is followed by a sentence.
In my 'ears', the word 'albeit' creates, in a sense, a lesser contradiction between the two clauses of a sentence than does 'although'. While 'although' sort of 'destroys' whatever the other clause says, 'albeit' agrees, but then goes on to argue why it's unfeasible. 'The puppy was cute, albeit very expensive.' could be rewritten in full form as 'The puppy was cute, although it was very expensive.' Here you clearly see how 'albeit' seemingly incorporates all three: 'although' and a subject and a verb. To use 'albeit' correctly, you should be able to replace it with 'although+it (or another pronoun)+[form of the verb 'to be']'. V85 (talk) 09:02, 10 May 2012 (UTC)
I see your point. However, I think that there can also be an implied "(the case) that" - hence constructions like the one in Lehrer's song. Nonetheless, the connotations are not exactly the same as 'although'. AlexTiefling (talk) 09:46, 10 May 2012 (UTC)
Although I hate disagreeing with Lehrer, my language sensibilities tell me that he is using the word incorrectly in that song. The correct word to use should be 'although', since 'albeit' refers back to the subject of the main clause, i.e. 'we'. V85 (talk) 16:30, 10 May 2012 (UTC)
Albeit has historically been used with a full clause. From the OED: "a1616 Shakespeare Cymbeline (1623) ii. iii. 54 A worthy Fellow, Albeit he comes on angry purpose now"; "1805 R. Southey Madoc i. i. 8, I shall live to see the day, Albeit the number of my years well-nigh Be full"; "1878 C. J. Lever Jack Hinton xxvi. 184 Their voices, too, albeit the accent was provincial, were soft and musical." In modern use, however, It think the tendency is to use it only before adjectives, nouns, prepositional phrases, etc., and uses like Lehrer's also sound unnatural to me. Lesgles (talk) 17:32, 10 May 2012 (UTC)
I agree that Lehrer's use doesn't ring quite right -- probably because the clauses are reversed from the order one expects with albeit. He was more concerned, I suspect, with getting albeit (as an ostensibly stuffy Harvard word) into the lyrics (and it scans perfectly), rather than ensuring that the usage was perfect. (I confess I don't find albeit stuffy -- but it's easy to overdo.) -- Elphion (talk) 17:49, 10 May 2012 (UTC)
Lehrer occasionally took some poetic license to make a song work. As with, "About a maid I'll sing a song / Who didn't have her family long." ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 02:11, 11 May 2012 (UTC)
In my opinion the use of "albeit" in that Lehrer lyric is correct but unusual (at least in modern English) (talk) 02:49, 12 May 2012 (UTC)