Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Language/2013 January 28

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January 28[edit]

"Women writers"[edit]

From today's featured article Reception history of Jane Austen:

"Like many women writers, she chose to publish anonymously..."

"women writers" "sounds" wrong to me. Had I written it, I would have used "female writers", though that sounds a bit more "clinical" than it should, too. FWIW, according to M-W, the adjective form of woman is woman, so this is apparently a compound noun? In that case, shouldn't it then use the singular noun "woman", like "airplane hangars", not "airplanes hangars"? (Actually, removing the word "writers" would solve the problem here, too.) —[AlanM1(talk)]— 13:31, 28 January 2013 (UTC)

It seems that Mignon Fogarty agrees with you --Senra (talk) 13:53, 28 January 2013 (UTC)
"women writers" sounds acceptable to me. ("men writers" does not, however.) (talk) 14:00, 28 January 2013 (UTC)
Yes, "women writers" is an established usage; see, for instance, the many books published with that in their titles. The plural seems more acceptable to me because of the relative equality of the two parts of the compound. A woman writer is both a woman and a writer, but an airplane hanger is not an airplane. See English plural#Plurals of compound nouns: "If a compound can be thought to have two heads, both of them tend to be pluralized when the first head has an irregular plural form." Lesgles (talk) 15:43, 28 January 2013 (UTC)
(ec)Sorry no references on this, but I know I've seen linguistic analyses that say that in English there's a tendency, when using a noun as an adjective before a plural noun, to use the plural form of the attributive noun if it is an irregular form, like women. So for example a woman or a man might say "I have a lot of women friends", "I have a lot of men friends" (not "woman friends" or "man" friends") but "I have a lot of lady friends" (not "ladies friends"). Duoduoduo (talk) 15:49, 28 January 2013 (UTC) Likewise, "women writers" but not "ladies writers". Duoduoduo (talk) 15:51, 28 January 2013 (UTC)
"Women writers" could be considered a kind of predicative or appositional compound. Jespersen in volume II of his Grammar gives examples of compounds which have an irregular plural or pluralia tantum as their first element: "scissors-grinder", "trousers pocket", "mice poison", "men-eaters" (i.e. cannibals) -- the last two now archaic... AnonMoos (talk) 17:54, 28 January 2013 (UTC)
I searched for List of women composers and was redirected to List of female composers by birth year. It's in Category:Women composers, which contains the sub-categories Australian women composers‎ but Brazilian female composers‎ and Female film score composers‎. It’s a sub-category of Female musicians and Women by occupation. Checking that last one out, we have Women: academics, activists, architects, artists, bankers, chefs, comedians, dentists, ethnologists and some others; but Female: accountants, astronauts, aviators (isn't a female aviator just an aviatrix?), bullfighters (!), dancers, diplomats, explorers, film directors, lawyers, missionaries, pirates, prostitutes and wartime spies. Go figure. This year, the Academy will be giving an award to the Best Woman Actor. Not. -- Jack of Oz [Talk] 18:49, 28 January 2013 (UTC)
Is the plural of aviatrix, aviatrices? (talk) 00:53, 1 February 2013 (UTC)
Yes! Lesgles (talk) 17:10, 1 February 2013 (UTC)

Equivalence for spiel?[edit]

Spiel, according to the dictionary, is an informal term used to describe a lengthy or excessively extravagant speech or prose intended to persuade an audience. Is there a formal equivalence to this term? The closest term I can think of is "equivocality", but I think that word has the connotation of "ambiguous" or "misleading", which may be reactions to a lengthy or excessively extravagant speech or prose intended to persuade an audience. (talk) 19:54, 28 January 2013 (UTC)

Rant seems like a good word, but it has the connotation of "angry talk". Vociferate seems to imply a sense of strong protest, which may be short or long. Proselytism can be interpreted as any attempt to convert one to another opinion, ideology, or faith, but it has no indication or connotation of a lengthy speech or prose that "spiel" has. (talk) 20:03, 28 January 2013 (UTC)
It depends on what kind of spiel you mean. A solicitation would be one kind of spiel, a tirade or harangue might be another. Marco polo (talk) 20:25, 28 January 2013 (UTC)
Longwindedness Bus stop (talk) 20:29, 28 January 2013 (UTC)
Resolved (talk) 21:05, 28 January 2013 (UTC)

"Oration" could be another one. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 01:33, 1 February 2013 (UTC)

I most often think of a "spiel" as a kind of pre-packaged sales pitch... AnonMoos (talk) 03:10, 1 February 2013 (UTC)

Maker subculture[edit]

Someone on the talk page is wondering if this is a correct title for the article. They suggest Maker culture may be better, which is a re-direct to the main now. I could have brought this up in other ref. desk fora but thought I would start here.--Canoe1967 (talk) 20:11, 28 January 2013 (UTC)

In case you're still watching here, this is probably an issue better discussed on the talk page. I'll answer there. --BDD (talk) 17:30, 1 February 2013 (UTC)

 Done here, and moved to talk page.--Canoe1967 (talk) 17:56, 1 February 2013 (UTC)

Druggist, apothecary, pharmacist[edit]

Is there a difference between the words "druggist", "apothecary", and "pharmacist"? They all seem to point to a person that sells, administers, or distributes drugs. How about "professional drug dealer"? (talk) 22:17, 28 January 2013 (UTC)

The first three, by connotation, imply a license, while the last makes no such distinction. μηδείς (talk) 23:04, 28 January 2013 (UTC)
More to the point, the first three sell medicines for the treatment of medical conditions, diseases, and symptoms thereof. The last sells substances for recreational use. --Jayron32 23:24, 28 January 2013 (UTC)
That's not nevessarily the case. The last might merely be a vendor going from pharmacy offering products at retail. μηδείς (talk) 05:08, 29 January 2013 (UTC)
Not really. Drug dealer is a term understood almost exclusively for clandestine sales of recreational drugs. Pharmaceutical wholesaler is the term d'art for vendors that sell to retail establishments. --Jayron32 05:51, 29 January 2013 (UTC)
I mean really, Jayron? So what exactly do the cases where the "almost" you yourself concede apply mean, then? Obviously professional drug dealer can mean exactly what I said. Do feel free to emphasize a point no one contested. Yet, so far as I am aware, there has been no such thing as an unlicensed "druggist", "apothecary", or "pharmacist" for almost a century if not more in English speaking countries. Recreational drugs is an even vaguer term, as if they don't sell steroids or antiobiotics and other things on the black market. But I won't go into it. Back to the OP, if you want to call someone a dealer of legal drugs you can call him legitimate, although a legitimate vendor of medicines will have a much clearer connotation than the possible black market professional drug dealer. μηδείς (talk) 06:08, 29 January 2013 (UTC)
The hedging was there to state that I could find no examples where the term "drug dealer" meant anyone except a clandestine seller of drugs, but if I didn't say "almost" then there would be the possibility that someone could find a single such usage. In reality, I don't think anyone uses the term "drug dealer" to mean anything except illegal dealer of drugs (either sales of outright illegal drugs or illegal sales of otherwise legal drugs). There are terms for people who legally deal in pharmaceuticals. Drug dealer just isn't one of them. At all. If the word "almost" bothers you, then ignore it. No one who uses the term "drug dealer" means some person with a legal job selling pharmaceuticals either in stores or to stores. If you're claiming otherwise, it would be helpful to provide a citation showing the use of the term you're claiming it has. --Jayron32 06:14, 29 January 2013 (UTC)
I can think of one exception. My dad used to be in the medical profession, and when a woman he had known as a sales rep for a drug company stood for a local election, he took great delight in telling people "she used to be my drug dealer". --Nicknack009 (talk) 09:35, 29 January 2013 (UTC)
Well, the fact that he took "great delight" shows that he was having fun with the usage of the word. That is, he knew the meaning of "drug dealer", and the humor in his usage was in using it in a slightly subversive way by referring to the sales rep for the drug company as such. The very existence of said humor shows the understood meaning of the term. --Jayron32 14:07, 29 January 2013 (UTC)
Exactly. --Nicknack009 (talk) 15:28, 29 January 2013 (UTC)
You are equivocating, failing to distinguish between meaning and connotation. Drug dealer means someone who sells drugs. It has the connotation of on the black market, which the terms for licensed professionals do not. μηδείς (talk) 19:29, 29 January 2013 (UTC)
In British English, "druggist" is really only known as a US import, "apothecary" is archaic, "pharmacist" is the normal relatively formal word, and the everyday word is "chemist". --ColinFine (talk) 00:13, 29 January 2013 (UTC)
So what do you call chemists, then? --Trovatore (talk) 05:23, 29 January 2013 (UTC)
We usually use a descriptor: industrial chemist, analytical chemist, etc. "Chemist" by itself, absent any particular context, means a pharmacist. -- Jack of Oz [Talk] 05:26, 29 January 2013 (UTC)
Whereas pharmacist without any further context means someone who practices pharmacism. μηδείς (talk) 05:33, 29 January 2013 (UTC)
Right. And a druggist practises druggism. -- Jack of Oz [Talk] 09:57, 29 January 2013 (UTC)
And an orgast stands on a street corner. KägeTorä - (影虎) (TALK) 13:53, 29 January 2013 (UTC)
These revelations are superb. I must go and re-examine the language through a new prism. I may now be described as a prist. Maybe I'll advocate a schism between the old and the new, and that will make me a schist. Anyone who wants to assist me in this noble work will be practising assism. Very fitting. -- Jack of Oz [Talk] 18:36, 29 January 2013 (UTC)
That, unfortunately, will probably not happen, since prist, schist, and assism are not widely known or accepted words used in that context. Those words may be called neologisms of the English language. Whether they would become marketable or usable is a question of debate and not for this reference desk. (talk) 19:54, 29 January 2013 (UTC)
And double pooh to you, too. -- Jack of Oz [Talk] 22:23, 29 January 2013 (UTC)
Marketing such words would simply be 'opportunism', and the community of people involved in 'linguism' may not be pleased. However, you could get away with a light sentence by be called a 'colloquialist'. KägeTorä - (影虎) (TALK) 20:51, 29 January 2013 (UTC)