The Language Thread

Guybrush

Dittohead
Since I have been itching for one.

1.) I found the list below on some site (probably Wikipedia—as always) after having seen ‘septuagenarian’ in writing. I wonder which of these are commonly used (if any at all), and, if so, if they are considered overly formal. Is it the same as saying someone is in his or her ‘thirties’.

Vicenarian: someone between 20 and 29 years of age
Tricenarian: someone between 30 and 39 years of age
Quadragenarian: someone between 40 and 49 years of age
Quinquagenarian: someone between 50 and 59 years of age
Sexagenarian: someone between 60 and 69 years of age
Septuagenarian: someone between 70 and 79 years of age
Octogenarian: someone between 80 and 89 years of age
Nonagenarian: someone between 90 and 99 years of age
Centenarian: someone between 100 and 109 years of age
Supercentenarian: someone over 110 years of age
More questions later. :D
 

STN

sou'wester
I'd say it's only used for septugenarian and above... No idea how formal it is really.
 
N

nomadologist

Guest
I've heard/used octogenarian and septugenarian often.
 

shudder

Well-known member
using septuagenarian or higher is probably fine in, say, newspaper writing, but a little odd in everyday speech.
 

Guybrush

Dittohead
‘Nonagenarian’ is the coolest, I think. ‘Quinquagenarian’ almost sounds Aztecan. Pronunciation, eh. :confused:
 

michael

Bring out the vacuum
Cunt.

My wife (we're NZers) shocked an American friend last night by commenting that someone we'd just met was "a bit of a cunt".

I pointed out that in NZ (and Australia?) it's only possible to use "cunt" in pretty mild / casual situations, but it can also be used as a friendly word - "he's a good cunt", "that cunt's alright, eh?", etc. - which further destroyed our buddy's mind. My memory is that a friend from Ireland said things were similar to NZ where he was from in Dublin.

I was wondering about the use of the word in other places - it's still held up as the worst / strongest / most taboo single word where I'm from, but it's not actually reserved for when people are wanting to shower hate on someone.

I don't use it much, cos I'm not in NZ, but among friends it's pretty commonplace.

Anyone?
 
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zhao

there are no accidents
antelopes and cantelopes are not very similar at all. yet their names are identical except for a "c".

english is SO weird!
 

IdleRich

IdleRich
"I'd say it's only used for septugenarian and above..."
Yeah, I reckon that's about right, presumably the younger ages are not considered worth remarking.

"I was wondering about the use of the word in other places - it's still held up as the worst / strongest / most taboo single word where I'm from, but it's not actually reserved for when people are wanting to shower hate on someone."
One time when my girlfriend and I were really late for something (can't remember what) we tried to get on a bus in a crazy hurry but the bus driver refused to accept a fiver (ok, maybe it was a tenner) for our fares because he had no change, he also refused to let us ride until he had change and was generally inflexible and unpleasant and completely refused to help us in any way despite the fact that we were obviously desperate. Eventually as he pulled off my girlfriend called him a cunt.
Later on and angry she told that story to one of her friends, he sympathised but he said that in his opinion she should not have called him a "cunt" as it was slightly too strong for the situation. She asked what he would consider acceptable and after a few moments thought he replied that for the level of anger caused "motherfucker" would be both strong enough and not too strong.

"antelopes and cantelopes are not very similar at all. yet their names are identical except for a "c"."
Yeah but I call that a canteloupe. Simply raises more questions I guess.

From wikipedia

"Cantaloupe (also cantalope) refers to two varieties of muskmelon (Cucumis melo) [1], which is a species in the family Cucurbitaceae (a family which includes nearly all melons and squashes)."
 

Guybrush

Dittohead
I was wondering about the use of the word in other places - it's still held up as the worst / strongest / most taboo single word where I'm from, but it's not actually reserved for when people are wanting to shower hate on someone.
Occasionally, I have been taken aback by how casually it is used on this forum, thinking it was a very strong word, but this explains it.
 

Guybrush

Dittohead
1. He said there is a problem.

2. He said that there is a problem.

Which one is grammatically correct, and which one is preferred stylistically? Generally, I’m wondering how much lard you can cut, still keeping the sentence grammatical—in a puritan sense.
 

dHarry

Well-known member
1. He said there is a problem. - this form implies direct/reported speech: He said "there is a problem".

2. He said that there is a problem. - this is more "correct" in this situation, but still formally incorrect; it should read: He said that there was a problem.

But isn't grammar is ultimately an appeal to an imposed hierarchy/power structure - who says/controls what's "correct"? Answer: those who "know" i.e. those who have been taught the rules and have accepted them as valid and as something to police. This of course excludes the uneducated, minorities, dialect speakers, etc., and also points to the fact that the sub-set of grammatically correct sentences/language is itself a dialect; and arguably an impoverished and stilted one at that. This of course isn't uncontroversial (and ironically you will probably find many proponents of it - like me, here - using more-or-less impeccable grammar to propound it!)...

http://www.cinestatic.com/trans-mat/McClure/contents.htm#_Table_of_Illustrations is a brilliant investigation of linguistics, philosophy and politics (health warning - may contain Continental theory! But it is admirably lucid, clear, and thorough.*)

* Note here the use of the serial ("Oxford") comma in this list - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serial_comma
 
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Guybrush

Dittohead
1. He said there is a problem. - this form implies direct/reported speech: He said "there is a problem".

2. He said that there is a problem. - this is more "correct" in this situation, but still formally incorrect; it should read: He said that there was a problem.
Thanks for the answer, but I’m still confounded, as it seems to me that these two sentences have different meanings:

1. He said (in the past) that there is a problem (which still is ongoing)
(e.g., he said that the conflict in Iraq is a problem)

2. He said (in the past) that there was a problem (which no longer is a problem)
(e.g., he said that the conflict in Iraq was a problem)

The first construction looks useful if you want to describe what was said about an ongoing event in the past.

On the same tip, does the ‘correctness’ of ‘that’ apply in the present tense too? E.g., ‘he says that there is a problem’, rather than, ‘he says there is a problem’.

But isn't grammar is ultimately an appeal to an imposed hierarchy/power structure - who says/controls what's "correct"? Answer: those who "know" i.e. those who have been taught the rules and have accepted them as valid and as something to police. This of course excludes the uneducated, minorities, dialect speakers, etc., and also points to the fact that the sub-set of grammatically correct sentences/language is itself a dialect; and arguably an impoverished and stilted one at that. This of course isn't uncontroversial (and ironically you will probably find many proponents of it - like me, here - using more-or-less impeccable grammar to propound it!)...
I see the problem, but anarchy hardly is preferable—certainly not for those learning English as a second language. One of the recurring problems with the English language, to me, is that there is such a huge gulf between the written, prescripted version, and how it is spoken, making it hard writing natural ‘correctly’.
 

michael

Bring out the vacuum
1. He said there is a problem.

2. He said that there is a problem.

Which one is grammatically correct, and which one is preferred stylistically? Generally, I’m wondering how much lard you can cut, still keeping the sentence grammatical—in a puritan sense.
Actually, in formal written English I think neither is generally considered acceptable.

If it's direct speech, you need to put the speech marks in and don't need a relative pronoun ("that'), e.g. He said "There is a problem."

Reported speech has to move into the past since the speech occurred already,

e.g.

"There will be a problem" -> He said (that) there would be a problem.

"There is a problem" -> He said (that) there was a problem.

"There was a problem" -> He said (that) there had been a problem.

In spoken (and casual written) English I don't think anyone notices, let alone cares.

As for dropping "that" from the start of relative clauses, I think it's not only totally acceptable, but so commonplace people don't even notice it. (or "I think that it's not only totally acceptable, but so commonplace that people don't even notice it." ;)) I honestly don't think there's any change in the meaning from including or dropping the relative pronoun.

When I worked for a law firm they gave us instructions on when to use "which" and "that" and encouraged us to never drop them, because it was legal-land and such distinctions are considered important.
 
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michael

Bring out the vacuum
BTW, I'm totally with dHarry regarding grammar, but being in the midst of English teaching and trying to get my head around another language or two myself, I do understand the plight of the 2nd-language learner. It's certainly really important to have some idea of what's generally unacceptable... I guess you've picked up that it's easier not to use the word "cunt". ;)

Also, Guybrush, I would never have known you weren't a native English speaker from your writing.
 

Guybrush

Dittohead
Actually, in formal written English I think neither is generally considered acceptable. ...
Ah, thanks. Our rules are like this:

1. He says that there is a problem

2. He says, ‘there is a problem’.

3. He says: there is a problem.

I love rules: once you know them you can relax... :cool:

Edit: Thanks. But you would be able to tell it when I’m drunk. Promise :)
 

michael

Bring out the vacuum
I didn't think about reporting something in the present when I wrote my last post. I suppose it would be more usual to say "He's saying there's a problem" rather than "He says...", but both are possible.

- Kool Keith is on TV!
- What's he saying?
- He's saying there's a problem.

Also, just to lay out all the possibilities, if you're reporting future speech you have to use present in the relative clause, which I aways found a bit odd.

He hasn't admitted it yet, but I bet tomorrow he'll say there's a problem.

That's true whether you say "he will say," "he is saying" or "he is going to say."
 

dHarry

Well-known member
I think Micheal has clarified it, but just for the record Guybrush:

He said "there is a problem". = He said that there was a problem.
He said "there was a problem". = He said that there had been a problem.
He said "there had been a problem". = He said that there had been a problem. *
He said "there will a problem". = He said that there would be a problem.
He said "there would be a problem". = He said that there would have been a problem. *
He said "there would have been a problem". = He said that there would have been a problem.

*problematic?! no obvious way to distinguish these from the preceeding version.

But generally very few really "know" what's "correct"; the anarchy you speak of is the real world of dialects, slang, jargon, txt msgs, etc. - all sorts of variants. Arguably without these a language would atrophy and become like Latin - strictly governed by rules but dead.
 

Freakaholic

not just an addiction
"There is a problem" -> He said (that) there was a problem.
Ok, just wondering, if a person (or language speaking robot or parrot) were to be referring to an ongoing problem referenced by another person (robot, parrot), would it then be correct to say "He said that there is a problem"?

As in "Al Gore said that there is a problem with the environment."
 

michael

Bring out the vacuum
Well, in theory it goes like this:

"There is a problem with the environment" -> Al Gore said there was a problem with the environment (which was the case at the time he said it, may or may not be the case now).

"There was a problem with the environment" -> Al Gore said there had been a problem with the environment (which is over now).

So in the first case it's ambiguous as to whether or not the problem is ongoing, you have to get it from context or additional information.

e.g. Yesterday Al Gore said there was a problem with the environment that would take many years to resolve.
 
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