undyingking: (Default)
How do you pronounce the surname of that artist who liked sunflowers and starry nights? I suspect I say it wrongly… but not sure. Crowdsourcing will have the answer!

[Poll #1820257]

(And did you know he lived at various times in Brixton, Ramsgate and Isleworth? I didn't until recently.)
undyingking: (Default)
How do you pronounce the surname of that artist who liked sunflowers and starry nights? I suspect I say it wrongly… but not sure. Crowdsourcing will have the answer!

[Poll #1820257]

(And did you know he lived at various times in Brixton, Ramsgate and Isleworth? I didn't until recently.)
undyingking: (Default)
because I forgot these, and it wouldn't let me add them into the same entry:

[Poll #1730021]

Bah, that's going to make analysis a bit of a pain. Ah well.
undyingking: (Default)
because I forgot these, and it wouldn't let me add them into the same entry:

[Poll #1730021]

Bah, that's going to make analysis a bit of a pain. Ah well.
undyingking: (Default)
Quick pronunciation survey. In each case, pick the one that's closest to your version – it doesn't have to be absolutely exact. (And 'ə' is a schwa, ie. a neutral 'uh' type of vowel sound.)

If you use different pronunciations in different contexts, answer the commonest one and expand in a comment. Likewise if you have a pronunciation that's not like any of the options…

[Poll #1729985]
undyingking: (Default)
Quick pronunciation survey. In each case, pick the one that's closest to your version – it doesn't have to be absolutely exact. (And 'ə' is a schwa, ie. a neutral 'uh' type of vowel sound.)

If you use different pronunciations in different contexts, answer the commonest one and expand in a comment. Likewise if you have a pronunciation that's not like any of the options…

[Poll #1729985]

I thought

Nov. 23rd, 2010 03:58 pm
undyingking: (Default)
Does anyone know if there's a name for jokes that are roughly of the form "I thought [X] was a [Y] until I discovered [Z]"?

The humour normally turns on X having two homophonous interpretations -- either the first is innocent and the second is innuendish (in which case Z was traditionally "Smirnoff"), or there's an ironic contrast between the two meanings, or else the homophony is just wackily inventive... there are probably other sub-forms too.

Anyone got any good examples?

(Edited to correct spelling of homophonous!)

I thought

Nov. 23rd, 2010 03:58 pm
undyingking: (Default)
Does anyone know if there's a name for jokes that are roughly of the form "I thought [X] was a [Y] until I discovered [Z]"?

The humour normally turns on X having two homophonous interpretations -- either the first is innocent and the second is innuendish (in which case Z was traditionally "Smirnoff"), or there's an ironic contrast between the two meanings, or else the homophony is just wackily inventive... there are probably other sub-forms too.

Anyone got any good examples?

(Edited to correct spelling of homophonous!)
undyingking: (Default)
I guess you're all probably familiar, if only by repute, with the traditional song that starts:
Four-and-twenty virgins came down from Inverness;
And when the ball was over, there were four-and-twenty less.
It will not have escaped the sharp-eyed, though, that the second line contains what some consider a grammatical solecism.

I suggest the following improved version:
Four-and-twenty virgins came down from Invermuir;
And when the ball was over, there were four-and-twenty fewer.


Alternatively:
Four-and-twenty virgins came down from Invergordon;
And when the ball was over, there were four-and-twenty more o'dem.
(although arguably that one doesn't make much sense…)

Any more for any more? I guess it doesn't necessarily have to begin with 'Inver', probably any town somewhere in the Highlands would do.
undyingking: (Default)
I guess you're all probably familiar, if only by repute, with the traditional song that starts:
Four-and-twenty virgins came down from Inverness;
And when the ball was over, there were four-and-twenty less.
It will not have escaped the sharp-eyed, though, that the second line contains what some consider a grammatical solecism.

I suggest the following improved version:
Four-and-twenty virgins came down from Invermuir;
And when the ball was over, there were four-and-twenty fewer.


Alternatively:
Four-and-twenty virgins came down from Invergordon;
And when the ball was over, there were four-and-twenty more o'dem.
(although arguably that one doesn't make much sense…)

Any more for any more? I guess it doesn't necessarily have to begin with 'Inver', probably any town somewhere in the Highlands would do.

My goodness

Aug. 3rd, 2010 02:05 pm
undyingking: (Default)
Does anyone know (or care to speculate), what's the origin of the phrase template "full of [noun]-y goodness"?

It sounds like it ought to have come from an advert or something. But it's been used for so long with the speaker's choice of interpolated noun, I have no idea at all what the original might have been.

My goodness

Aug. 3rd, 2010 02:05 pm
undyingking: (Default)
Does anyone know (or care to speculate), what's the origin of the phrase template "full of [noun]-y goodness"?

It sounds like it ought to have come from an advert or something. But it's been used for so long with the speaker's choice of interpolated noun, I have no idea at all what the original might have been.
undyingking: (Default)
I'm interested to learn what people think a vowel is. For reasons that will be explained further down the post, once you've done the poll!

[Poll #1575745]

Why are you even asking this? )

Also I'm interested to know, people who are knowledgable about other languages, whether they handle these things more sensibly?
undyingking: (Default)
I'm interested to learn what people think a vowel is. For reasons that will be explained further down the post, once you've done the poll!

[Poll #1575745]

Why are you even asking this? )

Also I'm interested to know, people who are knowledgable about other languages, whether they handle these things more sensibly?
undyingking: (Default)
It must be very puzzling to find out that when you say someone is 'quite pretty', 'quite nice', 'quite angry' etc, you mean they are 'somewhat [X]'; but if you say they are 'quite gorgeous', 'quite delightful', 'quite furious' etc, you mean they are 'extremely [X]'.

'Quite' as a modifier seems to mean 'a bit' when applied to a normal-type quality, but 'absolutely' when applied to an extreme-type quality. As native speakers we have a lifetime of context to tell us which is which. But even so there are grey areas: for example, the first sentence of this post could have started "It must be quite puzzling..." which could really have had either meaning.

Sometimes these English ambiguities relate to the language's split roots as a Germanic structure overlaid with Romance formalism. But I don't know if that's the case with this one, ie. I think it's polysemy (the word meaning has split in two) rather than homonymy (two unrelated words that happen to be the same). It would be interesting to know what are the histories of the two usages.

Can you think of other such confusing setups? Or a clearer way to explain this one?
undyingking: (Default)
It must be very puzzling to find out that when you say someone is 'quite pretty', 'quite nice', 'quite angry' etc, you mean they are 'somewhat [X]'; but if you say they are 'quite gorgeous', 'quite delightful', 'quite furious' etc, you mean they are 'extremely [X]'.

'Quite' as a modifier seems to mean 'a bit' when applied to a normal-type quality, but 'absolutely' when applied to an extreme-type quality. As native speakers we have a lifetime of context to tell us which is which. But even so there are grey areas: for example, the first sentence of this post could have started "It must be quite puzzling..." which could really have had either meaning.

Sometimes these English ambiguities relate to the language's split roots as a Germanic structure overlaid with Romance formalism. But I don't know if that's the case with this one, ie. I think it's polysemy (the word meaning has split in two) rather than homonymy (two unrelated words that happen to be the same). It would be interesting to know what are the histories of the two usages.

Can you think of other such confusing setups? Or a clearer way to explain this one?
undyingking: (Default)
As a follow-up to this post of the other week about Google Translate, here's an interesting study comparing the results of Google, Babelfish and Bing translation to and from various languages.

The conclusions:
  • Google is uniformly preferred for longer text samples;
  • You might think Google's statistical approach would be strongest for commonest-translated (ie. Western European) languages, but no;
  • Old-school rules-based translation seemed to work best for Far Eastern languages;
  • Shorter lengths uniformly weaken the preference for Google;
  • The preferred translator for A->B is not always preferred for B->A.


Edit: changed "now" to "not" in last sentence. Oops.
undyingking: (Default)
As a follow-up to this post of the other week about Google Translate, here's an interesting study comparing the results of Google, Babelfish and Bing translation to and from various languages.

The conclusions:
  • Google is uniformly preferred for longer text samples;
  • You might think Google's statistical approach would be strongest for commonest-translated (ie. Western European) languages, but no;
  • Old-school rules-based translation seemed to work best for Far Eastern languages;
  • Shorter lengths uniformly weaken the preference for Google;
  • The preferred translator for A->B is not always preferred for B->A.


Edit: changed "now" to "not" in last sentence. Oops.
undyingking: (Default)
Why is it that "turning a blind eye to X", suggesting a benevolent tolerance, is quite positive; while "turning a deaf ear to X", suggesting a hard-hearted disregard, is rather negative?

And why aren't there any corresponding expressions for the other senses, such as "turning a tasteless tongue"?
undyingking: (Default)
Why is it that "turning a blind eye to X", suggesting a benevolent tolerance, is quite positive; while "turning a deaf ear to X", suggesting a hard-hearted disregard, is rather negative?

And why aren't there any corresponding expressions for the other senses, such as "turning a tasteless tongue"?

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