Author Topic: Words! Trivia & Interesting Things About the English Language  (Read 7032 times)

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NestHolder

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Re: Words! Trivia & Interesting Things About the English Language
« Reply #150 on: January 21, 2015, 01:27:54 PM »
What about 'quite nice' these days?

I had a comment to a story once which went, "I quite liked this!"  In my kind of English, this amounts  to something like "it was okay".  I *think* my commenter was being a bit more enthusiastic than that, but I'm not sure.

In English English, 'quite nice' means 'on the nicer side of okay'.  What about other kinds of English?

Thipu1

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Re: Words! Trivia & Interesting Things About the English Language
« Reply #151 on: January 21, 2015, 01:58:00 PM »
I remember Sister Mary Jerome who taught first year English in my High School.  She said something I've always remembered. 

'All right is quite right and quite right is all right but quite all right is all quite wrong'.


kglory

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Re: Words! Trivia & Interesting Things About the English Language
« Reply #152 on: January 21, 2015, 02:04:05 PM »
I thought nice originally meant precise, as in "a nice distinction". I've never heard it linked to foolish. The things you learn online...

That's what I thought as well.  A certain dialogue in Northanger Abbey comes to mind with this.  :)

This is what I have (and not the only source, just the easiest):

http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?allowed_in_frame=0&search=nice&searchmode=none

Interesting, I had no idea!

Mental Magpie

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Re: Words! Trivia & Interesting Things About the English Language
« Reply #153 on: January 21, 2015, 03:22:56 PM »
What about 'quite nice' these days?

I had a comment to a story once which went, "I quite liked this!"  In my kind of English, this amounts  to something like "it was okay".  I *think* my commenter was being a bit more enthusiastic than that, but I'm not sure.

In English English, 'quite nice' means 'on the nicer side of okay'.  What about other kinds of English?

Quite nice, at least in my circle of American English, is equivalent to very nice, and often it is used when the very nice is unexpected.

Bethczar

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Re: Words! Trivia & Interesting Things About the English Language
« Reply #154 on: January 21, 2015, 06:58:50 PM »
I thought nice originally meant precise, as in "a nice distinction". I've never heard it linked to foolish. The things you learn online...

That's what I thought as well.  A certain dialogue in Northanger Abbey comes to mind with this.  :)
Well, yes. I do adore Mr. Tilney. But I had heard of that meaning before I read that passage.

Elfmama

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Re: Words! Trivia & Interesting Things About the English Language
« Reply #155 on: January 21, 2015, 07:35:06 PM »
That's so awesome! Do you have any other words you've had little revelations about?

The first time I read the word 'étinceler' in French, I had that same 'hang on a second' feeling and looked it up - yup, 'tinsel' comes from the French word for 'to sparkle'.

Also, there's a whole group of words in English that I think of as 'wandering-n' words where the original noun started with an 'n', but as the population was largely illiterate and English speakers blur their words together quite a bit, the 'n' got tacked onto the indefinite article. So when 'napperon' (French for small tablecloth) got imported into English, 'a napron' became 'an apron'. The actual term for this is 'incorrect division'. See also newt (an ewt), umpire (a noumpere), nickname (an ekename)...
And an obsolete meaning for 'eke' was 'also', so an 'ekename' was an 'also name' -- a name you had as well as your legal name. 
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Piratelvr1121

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Re: Words! Trivia & Interesting Things About the English Language
« Reply #156 on: January 21, 2015, 09:41:36 PM »
Huh. Gives a whole new meaning to what I used to hear growing up to discourage a backbone.  "Everyone likes nice girls". 

Hmmmmm...
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merryns

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Re: Words! Trivia & Interesting Things About the English Language
« Reply #157 on: January 21, 2015, 10:41:34 PM »
I thought nice originally meant precise, as in "a nice distinction". I've never heard it linked to foolish. The things you learn online...

That's what I thought as well.  A certain dialogue in Northanger Abbey comes to mind with this.  :)
Well, yes. I do adore Mr. Tilney. But I had heard of that meaning before I read that passage.


That is also the meaning in the context of The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch

jedikaiti

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Re: Words! Trivia & Interesting Things About the English Language
« Reply #158 on: January 22, 2015, 02:35:09 AM »
While I'm English; I hope that I'm not badly "as above", as regards American use of the language. Many American expressions, I love -- I consider that you guys have a splendid way with words. Where the actual word differs (trash, garbage, etc.), usually I prefer the English usage which I'm accustomed to, but it's no big deal to me.  In just a very few cases -- and I readily confess, totally irrationally -- I really dislike the American equivalent word. One instance (which I may already have cited on eHell), is the humorous word meaning "absurdly fussy and particular over trivial things". This side of the Atlantic, it's "pernickety", which I feel to be a fine and expressive word.  You folk render it as "persnickety", which -- though different by only one letter -- I utterly hate, finding it babyish-seeming and intensely annoying.  I'm most willing to admit that this is a completely nutty prejudice on my part, and makes no sense whatsoever: but feelings are feelings, and often don't make sense !

Okay, I'm going to admit something myself.  There are many, many Britishisms (my own word, but I feel it fits) that I dearly love.  I love the idea of "ringing you up" instead of "calling you", for example.  But there are some that set my teeth on edge.  The one that gets me the most (and I fully admit this is an irrational annoyance, i.e. it's me not you!) is "Mum".  I can't explain it, but it's a trigger word for me the way that-word-which-can-be-applied-to-cake-and-means-damp is for others.  I don't bring it up for the most part because... well, it's silly.  But I feel better about it now, so thank you.  You can dislike "persnickety" and "tidbit", and I'll continue to avoid "mum" and "nappy".  ;D

We've got ourselves a deal there !  As we agree, these things are not rational, and no person of sense would suggest that they are.  I myself have no quarrel with your equivalent, "Mom" -- it's just what you Americans say, whereas we say the other thing; and in Ireland, I gather it's "Mam" (I'm open to correction by Irish participants).  Re your other example: I find the American "diaper" medium-annoying -- it has to me a rather prissy-and-pedantic feel, for something which is very straightforward and basic; but it doesn't set me off like "persnickety" does.

Your "cake / damp" word (my bolding): would that be the infamous five-letter adjective beginning with m and ending with t -- as you observe, a hateful word for many, "for some reason or none"?

Really? I've only heard of it being a hateful word for one person, and a fictional one, at that! (George's mom in Dead Like Me.)
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scotcat60

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Re: Words! Trivia & Interesting Things About the English Language
« Reply #159 on: January 22, 2015, 07:56:44 AM »
One of my favorite interesting origins is the original definition of "nice".  It meant foolish

Silly originally meant innocent. "Poor silly children" was used to describe the Princes in the Tower, I believe.
My father, who was Scottish, would describe a child who died young before  they had experienced the hardships of life as a "poor wee innocent bairn"

Mental Magpie

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Re: Words! Trivia & Interesting Things About the English Language
« Reply #160 on: January 22, 2015, 09:08:51 AM »
One of my favorite interesting origins is the original definition of "nice".  It meant foolish

Silly originally meant innocent. "Poor silly children" was used to describe the Princes in the Tower, I believe.
My father, who was Scottish, would describe a child who died young before  they had experienced the hardships of life as a "poor wee innocent bairn"

Cool! Thanks for sharing! I love ones like that!