back to article Preserve the concinnity of English, caterwauls American university

New words get added to the English language all the time: we're bombarded, inundated, overwhelmed by press releases from dictionary publishers in which such excrescences as listicle, clickbait and neckbeard are added to the collective vocab. But who ever spares a thought for the various excellent old words being pushed onto …

  1. LaeMing Silver badge

    caterwaul

    that is a word I recognise from el reg in the past few months. Reference to a particular (or several particular) popular entertainers, I believe.

  2. Ian Emery Silver badge
    Trollface

    Caterwaling

    You only have to watch X Factor or BGT to see it is alive and well.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What's "Dumfounded"?

    American spelling of "Dumbfounded"? Or a typo?

    1. itzman
      Headmaster

      Re: What's "Dumfounded"?

      I was about to make the exact same point...

      it was repeated twice, so not likely a typo.

      1. Dinky Carter

        Re: What's "Dumfounded"?

        Is "the exact same" the American for "exactly the same" ??

        I'm in anti-American English pendant mode on this thread.

        1. disgruntled yank Silver badge

          Re: What's "Dumfounded"?

          I'm off to the jewelers for an anti-American English pendant. How much do you think it will set me back?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: What's "Dumfounded"?

            about 60 years ?

          2. A Known Coward

            Re: What's "Dumfounded"?

            I think you'd have to go to a jeweller instead if you wish to buy one.

          3. Fungus Bob Silver badge
            Coat

            Re: What's "Dumfounded"?

            "I'm off to the jewelers for an anti-American English pendant. How much do you think it will set me back?"

            Get one big enough to cover your flapdoodle....

        2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: What's "Dumfounded"?

          Is "the exact same" the American for "exactly the same" ??

          No, it's an English alternative that uses a shorter form of the adverb (technically, an adjectival inflection acting as an adverb) and places it after the article. But thanks for playing.

        3. jukejoint

          Re: What's "Dumfounded"?

          Yes, the exact same. Or to put it more succinctly, yes, 'zactly.

      2. Sid Valley

        Re: What's "Dumfounded"?

        Repeated twice? Is that American for occurred twice?

    2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: What's "Dumfounded"?

      I've never seen the spelling "dumfounded" before, that I can remember. A dictionary that purports to describe US spellings (the Oxford American) I checked only has "dumbfounded".

      However: Google nGram viewer shows "dumfounded", while a minority spelling, is well-established, and (according to the Gbooks data) was actually the more-popular spelling for a few years around the turn of the twentieth century.

  4. Mark 85 Silver badge
    Pint

    There... completed the assignment and used them all.

    As he obambulated about the subtopia, the concinnity and melange of the caterwaul and the knavery of the philistine opsimath was only exceeded by his flapdoodle about the rapscallion.

    Oh.. this wasn't an assignment to use them all... nevermind then, I'll just have cold one instead.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: There... completed the assignment and used them all.

      knavery isn't much use without knaves, which was displaced by lads some time ago. Hasn't rapscallion mutated to the much easier rascal (there's an entropy-based rule for such changes, I believe)?. Caterwaul still seems pretty common to me.

      Personally, I'm not a huge fan of synthetic words derived from Latin and (particularly) Greek so can happily live without obambulate, subtopia, concinnity and opsimath. Of course, please excuse my hypocrisy for those words of classic (and pseudo-classic) origin I do use! melange is a French loan word than offers nothing more than mix or mixture.

      Philistine is more than vaguely racist. So, I guess only flapdoodle is looking for more exercise!

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: There... completed the assignment and used them all.

        >melange is a French loan word than offers nothing more than mix or mixture.

        Melange is also an English jargon term in Geology for certain bodies of mixed rock, and in gem stone trading for an assortment of diamonds of different sizes. Some also say it gives Guild Navigators the ability to fold space....

      2. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
        Holmes

        Re: There... completed the assignment and used them all.

        "Philistine is more than vaguely racist."

        Only if you conflate it with Palestine, otherwise who is there to be offended?

        I gave up on proper words years ago when a group of people looked at me as if I were an alien for using the word 'effervescent'. None of them knew what it meant. I was further disquieted upon discovering that none of the attendant group understood the word after I explained what it meant.

        However, I am prepared to be lambasted for poor educational methods rather than cynically ascribing negative mental attributes to the aforementioned group of x-tards.

        In the words of Dr. Johnson's nemesis:- I'm anispeptic, frasmotic, even compunctuous to have caused you such pericombobulation.

        Also, I believe 'melange' imparts more an understanding of 'blending' rather than a simple, crude, 'mix'. :)

        1. omnicent

          Re: There... completed the assignment and used them all.

          I was made to feel silly at work recently by daring to use the word obfuscate, I thought that was a pretty well-known word!

          1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

            Re: There... completed the assignment and used them all.

            Yeah, you gotta love it when someone else doesn't understand the words you use and they make out that you're the stupid one. Love 'em.

          2. jukejoint

            Re: There... completed the assignment and used them all.

            I used to teach incoming employees about many things including company policies in customer service.

            One of the rules was "Use of pejoratives when speaking with clients is absolutely forbidden."

            This, sadly, baffled most of the young things who furthermore usually could not spell properly so their chances of finding the meaning out on their own were somewhat diminished.

            Come to think of it, once, in relating a situation to the fable "about the 6 blind men encountering an elephant" they asked me to tell them the story which none of them had heard.

            Perhaps gaming does not instruct? I really don't know what to make of it, other than I must be an old Philistine. The non-racist kind.

      3. T. F. M. Reader Silver badge

        Re: There... completed the assignment and used them all.

        @Charlie Clark: "Philistine is more than vaguely racist."

        Actually, at worst it is vaguely Biblical, as evidenced by the Origin section of http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/philistine. ;-)

        1. Dr Scrum Master

          Re: There... completed the assignment and used them all.

          "Actually, at worst it is vaguely Biblical, as evidenced by the Origin section of http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/philistine. ;-)"

          Which just goes to show the effectiveness of propaganda by the Hebrews.

          1. bitten

            Re: There... completed the assignment and used them all.

            If I remember it right archaeologists claim that the Hebrews are the Philistines with the Late Bronze Age collapse in between them.

  5. Mycho Silver badge

    Sesquipedalian Bollocks.

    The controversy of a few years back when a republican supported Gentrification only to discover that it didn't mean what he thought it means (it means improving an area by getting rid of the riff-raff, not by improving the area) is a perfect example of why using obscure words isn't helpful.

    1. hplasm Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: Sesquipedalian Bollocks.

      Bollock back...

      It just provide that Pols should stick to words of one syllable, or preferably, fewer.

    2. Marvin the Martian

      Re: Sesquipedalian Bollocks.

      No, the "gentrification" example doesn't show that using "obscure" words is the road to faceloss, it just gives an example of a bloviating politician. "Gentrification" is well-established, and very widely used in the neighbourhoods it threatens.

      I think the silly 'protect the words' outcry is based very much on illogic: English has more words than any other language, ergo no thanks we've got enough, the borders are closed, first fully employ the ones we already have; plus now a push to become a one-person verbodiversity hotspot... Clearly (and tested), English speakers do not use more words on average (and the Sun doesn't use less diverse words than the Times) --- it is just spoken as first or second language by a vastly more diverse population than any other language; a Raj colonial infuses words he picks up locally, and a Jamaican injects some patois...

      Then there's the simple fact that few words have a fixed, official 'meaning'; "stink" used to mean "smell", and now "smell" tends to be negative as well ("what's that smell?", not "smell the flowers!").

      1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

        Re: Sesquipedalian Bollocks.

        You had me at bloviating.

        1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

          Re: Sesquipedalian Bollocks.

          "You had me at bloviating."

          Seconded. Although I will accept new words happily if they are presented in the correct spirit. I refer, of course, to a recent posting by one commentard who provided a wonderful set of imagery which included a punishment of 'mild-carping' (to have a wet fish applied to the chops in a not-particularly malicious manner, but enough to get the point across that you had it coming). At least that was how I interpreted it. Lacking a dictionary reference I felt free to apply a little poetic license.

  6. frank ly Silver badge

    I'm perturbed

    They have 'pertubate' as a verb in that list. I suppose someone knows the word 'pertubation' and made an assumption.

    1. James Micallef Silver badge

      Re: I'm perturbed

      I'm anaspeptic, phrasmotic, even compunctious, that "pericombobulation" and "contrafibularities" have not been included in their melange. What flapdoodle! I am inclined to obambulate down to the subtopia where these philistine rapscallions dwell and caterwaul about their knavery.

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: I'm perturbed

      >They have 'pertubate' as a verb in that list.

      I've very rarely heard that word used as-is, but it is quite common to hear someone say "I was perturbed because [unsettling experience]".

      Curious how sometimes only one use of a word is continues in common use.

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: I'm perturbed

        Perturbate is like masturb. The real verb is slightly different in both cases, but you need to be an etymologist to know (or care) why.

    3. Whit.I.Are

      Re: I'm perturbed

      Any word can be verbed...

      1. Arthur the cat Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: I'm perturbed

        Any word can be verbed...

        but excessive verbing weirds language.

  7. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Obambulate...

    I was going to make some witty comment here but I think I'll defer to one of our more vocal commenters who loves to skew El Presidente's name.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

      Re: Obambulate...

      Obambilate - to walk with sheep?

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Obambulate...

        Except Bambi was a Deer of course! (I knew that)

      2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Obambulate...

        Obambilate - to walk with [deer]?

        Sure. Let's also have Obamalate (to walk with the 44th president of the US) and Labambalate (to walk with the captain, and a little grace), and perhaps even Owambulate1 (to walk while mocking the agonies of one's fellow Internet commentators, which is indeed my preferred form of peripatesis).

        1Portmanteau derived from "obambulate" and "waambulance", the latter a portmanteau of interjection "waa" (crying) and "ambulance" once frequent on sites such as fark.com. Obviously.

  8. itzman

    I'd settle...

    ...or being able to spell the words we already have in common usage, and use them correctly,

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: I'd settle...

      The commonest examples being lose and loose!

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: I'd settle...

        "The commonest examples being lose and loose!"

        Surely the commonest are its and it's. Have and of are also strong contenders.

        1. FlossyThePig

          Re: I'd settle...

          Don't forget

          their, they're and there

          your, you're, yaw (and yore)

          Plus over 400 more examples at http://www.singularis.ltd.uk/bifroest/misc/homophones-list.html

          1. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge
            Childcatcher

            Re: I'd settle...

            Don't be too hard on people who make mistakes! We all do because English is tough stuff.

  9. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Liff's too short

    My preference is to use words with the fewest least letters. So while a lot of obscure words do carry suitable meanings if there are shorter words (or abbreviations) that mean the same I try to use those, instead. Or as the list would suggest: avoid prolix wordy writing.

    Of course, if we want to talk about excellent sources of words for describing common (or not so common) situations and feelings, Douglas Adam's "other" masterpiece has always been a good choice.

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: Liff's too short

      My preference is to use words with the fewest least letters.

      Except, presumably, when your choice of shortest word introduces ambiguity. 'Least' is used with mass nouns, not countable nouns where 'fewest' is more accurate and unambiguous. 'Least letters' suggests that set of letters which are held in the lowest regard or have the least importance.

      </pedantry>

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Liff's too short

        'Least' is used with mass nouns, not countable nouns where 'fewest' is more accurate and unambiguous.

        One of the many shibboleths in English invented out of whole cloth by eighteenth-century grammarians and self-appointed arbiters of language. Prefer it if you will (certainly many do, and I do myself); but to claim there's some greater justification for restricting forms of "less" to mass nouns is false pedantry.

      2. briesmith

        Re: Liff's too short

        I believe all letters were created equal; even k and q which I have to force myself not to be judgmental about. "Least" implies the relevance in other circumstances of "lesser"; that's why you shouldn't say "least letters"; preferring "fewer" is more correct as "few" and "fewest" could also be correct in different compositions.

        "Few" or "fewest" convey a sense of being special while "less" and "lesser" simply disparage those letters which have no one to speak for them; except me.

        And, anyway, which letters are the least letters is so subjective. And can there be more than one; surely, there is only the least letter? (Probably k or q but there I go again.)

  10. Admiral Grace Hopper

    Excellent.

    We must make sure that we don't lose any useful words as we embiggen the language.

    1. Little Mouse

      Re: Excellent.

      Too late - I fear we've already lost the Best. Word. Ever.

      The last time I heard anyone say "Goolies" was in about 1983.

      1. graeme leggett

        Re: Excellent.

        And is the answer to certain of societies ills still to 'cut them off'.

        (Not the Nine O'clock News. Pamela, Mel and Griff, if memory serves me right)

      2. 2+2=5 Silver badge

        Re: Excellent.

        > The last time I heard anyone say "Goolies" was in about 1983.

        My mother used to be a primary school teacher and, on one occasion, the class had been set the task of drawing ghosts after having heard a ghost story. One young girl came up and proudly showed off her drawing, saying: "There's the ghosts and they've got their ghoulies with them too."

      3. Spanners Silver badge

        Re: Excellent.@littlemouse

        The last time I heard anyone say "Goolies" was in about 1983.

        It sounds like I am 5 years older than you. I last heard it at school. I left in 1978.

  11. Lars Silver badge
    Pint

    funny

    And nice, I had a teacher who asked me why I like English. I told him it's because there is no grammar in the language, The guy, to my surprise, got very upset, surprisingly perhaps not. Then again if you teach the only language you know and are accused of having no grammar then who the hell are you. Forgive me in advance, I love the language but for grammar I could mention some other languages

    .

    English is the last mongrel Germanic language there is. The large amount of words in the English language is probably due to the fact that the island was conquered by world + dog* more than any other part of Europe. Nothing wrong with that either. The Dutch and Scandinavians have less problems reading old English than the English. At times I am a bit pissed off with Brits who think they have invented the language by themselves. Am I scratching blood from my nose.

    *This expression (read as "world plus dog") is primarily used on the U.K. information tech news site "The Register" as a synonym for "everyone" or "many, Urban Dictionary: world + dog

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: funny

      We do have grammar, it's just that unlike most European languages, English hides a lot of it in everyday use. A good deal of what most people think of as English grammatical rules were invented in an attempt to make it follow the rules of Latin which was seen at the time to be a "purer" and more scholarly language. For example the split infinitive prohibition - in Latin you cannot split an infinitive as the verb itself carries the implied "to", eg amare means to love. You can put whatever word you like between "to" and "love" but its physically impossible in Latin, and is therefore a pointless grammatical rule.

      The language itself is a complex combination of Latin, old Danish, French, old German and various other "acquired" words from our overseas acquisitions to spice it up. It always amuses me when the purists get all hot and bothered about new words being added that aren't "proper" English - if you take that to logical extremes half the language would vanish.

      It is a shame some of the older words fall out of use but that has always been the case - language evolves, which is why most people can't read Shakespeare, let alone Chaucer.

      1. launcap Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: funny

        >various other "acquired" words from our overseas acquisitions

        English - not so much borrowing words from other languages as chasing them up alleyways to mug them for whole sections of their vocabulary..

        (Can't remember who originally said that - I can't claim credit)

      2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: funny

        We do have grammar,

        Of course. It's a linguistic absurdity to claim a natural language (or any artificial one that's sufficiently high on the Chomsky scale) has no grammar.

        it's just that unlike most European languages, English hides a lot of it in everyday use.

        Or more precisely, unlike most other languages, English makes most of its grammatical information implicit rather than explicit. It has relatively few inflections (changes in word form), no particles, and a fair bit of flexibility in word order; those are the three usual channels by which non-spoken human languages indicate grammatical relationships. Spoken English also makes relatively little use of prosodic effects (such as intonation) to convey grammatical information, aside from an increase in pitch at the end of a sentence often indicating a question.

        That's why English often tends to be relatively verbose, compared to languages which make more use of inflection, particles, etc (like Greek or Japanese). Though in practice verbosity is usually more determined by conventions of the speech community anyway.

      3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: funny

        most people can't read Shakespeare

        I strongly suspect that most people literate in contemporary English can read Shakespeare with only moderate effort. Elizabethan English is a dialect of Modern English, and aside from some usually minor spelling changes, the only real obstacle is unfamiliar vocabulary.

        Chaucer (Middle English) does require a bit more help, though again any competent reader of contemporary English can make it through an annotated Chaucer with little difficulty.

        Here's a passage from "Troilus and Criseyde" at random:

        Thus gan he make a mirour of his mynde,

        In which he saugh al holly hire figure;

        And that he wel koude in his herte fynde,

        It was to hym a right good aventure

        If you read that phonetically, I dare say it's quite clear what nearly all the words are, and the sense is largely comprehensible.

      4. jukejoint

        Re: funny

        This is something up with which I will not put.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: funny

      "Am I scratching blood from my nose."

      Did you upset him so much he decided not to teach you about question marks?

    3. Mephistro Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: funny (@ Lars)

      "I told him it's because there is no grammar in the language,"

      There is very little of it, indeed, if you compare English with languages derived from Latin, or with 'proper' Germanic ones.

      Other things I like about English are:

      1- The almost absolute lack of 'case' in declensions. Case should be considered a crime against humanity and forbidden. I started liking English at thirteen, when I had to attend Latin classes at school. Coincidence? Nah! :-)

      2- The scarcity of Tense-aspect-mood (TAM for short) in verbal forms. In Spanish we have gazillions of TAM verbal forms that are a true PITA for any foreigner trying to learn the language and for Spanish youngsters who had to memorize several dozens of expressions like 'Pretérito Pluscuamperfecto de Subjuntivo' and learn when and where to apply them. The same is true about French and Italian and other Latin-derived languages. You can get a taste of this nightmare here.

      Yes, I like English because I'm a lazy arse. :-)

    4. John G Imrie Silver badge

      Re: funny

      The large amount of words in the English language is probably due to the fact that the island was conquered by world + dog* more than any other part of Europe.

      That and the fact that we invaded most of the world as well, and nicked the words from the invaded countries that we liked.

      cf pyjamas. curry and alcohol

      1. Swarthy Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: funny

        "The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don't just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and riffle their pockets for new vocabulary."
        - James Nicoll

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: funny

          English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and riffle their pockets for new vocabulary

          Thus the term "kleptolect".

          1. Mephistro Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            Re: funny

            Mr. Wojcik, your three last posts are informative, well written and concise. After reading them, I feel cleverer*.

            Thank you!

            Note*: Probably a figment of my imagination, but still... :-)

        2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

          Re: funny

          "English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and riffle their pockets for new vocabulary."

          And the best bit is that once we've finished pronouncing them, the original languages don't want them back. :)

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: funny

      If you think about it, it's not really possible to count the words in a language. The question is ill-defined in several different ways: What dialects do you include? What "foreign" words do you includes? What compound words? Which derived words? Which obsolete or rare words? Which slang words? Where's the boundary between homophony and polysemy? What about "proper" nouns?

      Some examples to think about: kushti, black board, red tape, hopelessnesslessness, yan tan tethera, flit (meaning "move house"), set (which senses are different words?), Moscow, Muscovite, Holy Roman Empire, 1,2-dichloroethane, ...

      If you accept the chemical terms, then any language which has them has an infinite vocabulary, and there are several other reasonable ways of reckoning that give you aleph zero (is that an English word?) ...

    6. Identity

      Re: funny

      In America, the concept of 'world + dog' would generally be rendered as 'everyone and his brother.'

      1. hplasm Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: funny

        q.v. The quaint verse, "One man went to mow."

        Look it up yerselves....

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Assuage

    I thought it was this bloke holed up in the US embassy in Paris or something, non?

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Beano - A noisy, festive party or celebration

    current spelling's "Bono".

    1. Mooseman Bronze badge

      Re: Beano - A noisy, festive party or celebration

      I thought that was defined as "prat" these days?

    2. Peter Simpson 1
      Mushroom

      Re: Beano - A noisy, festive party or celebration

      2. (n.) tradename of an anti-fart pill. (US)

      // celebration more about the lack of noise...

  14. werdsmith Silver badge

    My young daughter (10) wrote "must have been hiding" in her homework.

    Her young qualified teacher corrected her and told her that she should have written "must of been hiding".

    Apparently this form has superseded the old way.

    1. Mooseman Bronze badge

      I assume you had the teacher taken out and shot?

      1. Evil Graham

        "I assume you had the teacher taken out and shot?"

        He certainly should have.

        Come to think of it, if we are to accept that modern usage replaces "have" with "of" (and I am having a bit of trouble accepting that, but never mind), how are we supposed to indicate the abbreviated form in written English?

        For example, I can write "she should've been shot" and that would be fine, but I have yet to see anyone write "she should'f been shot".

        1. Pete 2 Silver badge

          Don't shoot the messenger

          > but I have yet to see anyone write "she should'f been shot".

          Ahhh, that's because the correct shortening is: "she shoulda been shot" <g>

          The problem with should / would / could of is that id doesn't conjugate very well. You can mispronounce "should of" in the present tense but "should of had" makes no sense.

          1. Terry 6 Silver badge

            Re: Don't shoot the messenger

            Ahhh, that's because the correct shortening is: "she shoulda been shot"

            Isn't it "shouda bin shot".

        2. werdsmith Silver badge

          Should'f

          Of replaces both have and 've.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      should have written

      "should of", sez one qts teech (me wife, achuly)

      Ther, fixt

    3. Mark 85 Silver badge

      I believe the form has been superseded because many people (most maybe?) write the way the speak. Different dialects (and English has lots of them) spread and users may not know that particular dialect. So write it like it sounds.

      As a side note, things are going to go down hill even more with "text speak" as people use the shorthand they've learned by texting.

    4. hplasm Silver badge
      Holmes

      "Apparently this form has superseded the old way."

      No. From time immemorial, teachers have been known to be Wrong.

      They don't like it when you tell them either.

    5. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Apparently this form has superseded the old way.

      No it bloody well hasn't!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      [I'm a teacher - if semi-retired now.]

    6. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Apparently this form has superseded the old way.

      Regardless, the teacher's action is untenable. Either the teacher is a prescriptivist, in which case correcting a student's diction is justifiable1, but "of" for "have" is not; or the teacher is a descriptivist, in which case we can accept the latter but not the former. Can't eat your cake and smear it on the furniture too.

      1In the sense of "consistent with the teacher's ideology". I'd still tell the teacher to stuff it, myself, after flashing my academic creds and pulling rank.

    7. jukejoint

      must of not bin so brite or I woodah non this

      Twenty years ago: My daughter asks me to read over her homework for middle school. I tell her, look here, this word is not spelled correctly, and she says, "Just read it Mom, the teacher says spelling doesn't matter." I told her it does matter, and she's not to turn in misspelled work, etc.

      I was sure to follow up with her teacher at the next conference. The teacher didn't want the students to "be afraid of writing" or tamper with the "free expression of their thoughts."

  15. Dave 126 Silver badge
    Happy

    For a bit of fun...

    ... search the Reg forums for some of these obscure words.

    For example, with the exception of this thread, the last time 'knavery' was used by a commentard was a month ago, but that was the first use of it since 2012.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Many of these new words should never be added in the first place. It seems that the OED etc keep adding new words every 5 minutes in order to justify their existence - either that or to show "trendy" they are...

    1. VinceH Silver badge

      New additions justify new editions - so they can continue to sell new dictionaries to replace the old ones people bought previously.

      So, yes, it's to justify their existence.

    2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Well, that's a relief. I was afraid a Reg article would go by with nary a commentator displaying utter ignorance of the distinction between prescriptive and descriptive dictionaries. Fulminate away!

  17. David Lewis 2
    WTF?

    Wayne State University?

    Just WTF has the USA got to do with "English"? They don't even speak or spell it propper like wot we do!

    1. jukejoint

      Re: Wayne State University?

      ! Don't say nothing bad about my uni ! It's in Detroit, and a good school. That is a fact. It's even a true fact.

      Now, to the subject at hand, tell me where England is on a map. I've heard of it, that it's 'across the pond' but it sounds swampy --- which continent, exactly?

  18. Dinky Carter

    I think an American university should be more concerned about how Americans are shrinking and distorting the English language in other ways, such as:

    Preposition abuse: e.g. "I protest preposition abuse" v "I protest against preposition abuse", "off of" , "based off' or even "based off of" v "based on", "write you" v "write to you" etc

    Reliance on the perfect tense, thus conveying less information: "I lost my car keys" v "I've lost my car keys", or "This page was visited 10,000 times" v "this page has been visited 10,000 times",

    Idiom abuse: "I could care less"

    Horrible new usages/words : "Can I get?" v "Could I have?", "Normalcy" v "Normality", "I wish I would have written" v "I wish I had written"

    Inability to use the verb "lie" correctly.

    Inability to choose between "bring" and "take" correctly.

    etc etc!

    (Flame away, I'm wearing asbestos :-) )

    1. launcap Silver badge
      FAIL

      > Inability to use the verb "lie" correctly.

      Inability to use the past tence correctly

      As in "I payed" or "I slayed" rather than "I paid" or "I slew".

      Maybe I should read a better class of self-published[1] stuff. If that isn't an oxymoron.

      [1] Occurs in books from established, reasonably well-respected publishers too!

      1. Identity
        Headmaster

        Past "tence?"

        spelling AND usage

        1. HaroldR

          Re: Past "tence?"

          Obviously the plural of "tennie", a common abbreviation for "tennis shoe"

    2. Identity
      Headmaster

      Q&A

      Q: What is the greatest problem in America, today — apathy or ignorance?

      A: I don't know and I don't care!

    3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Ah, here's the prescriptivist brigade. Not a great showing, but points for the torches and rakes.

    4. jukejoint

      Jimmy Hoffa - contemporary usage

      Anyone that uses 'off of' is hornswoggled about proper usage.

      We use "offa".

      "Jimmy Hoffa disappeared offa the face of the earth."

  19. Unep Eurobats
    Stop

    Loosing there meaning

    What we should be more worried about is words that are losing a specific and useful meaning. For example 'disiniterested' is coming to mean very uninterested; 'trope' is coming to mean thing; 'literally' is coming to mean not literally; and, ironically, 'ironically' is becoming a completely meaningless conjunction.

    1. Jonathan Richards 1

      Re: Loosing there meaning

      No, no, disiniterested means incorporating systemd.

    2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Loosing there meaning

      'trope' is coming to mean thing

      In what context? I can't think of a single case where I've read "trope" as anything other than a term of art.

      'ironically' is becoming a completely meaningless conjunction

      Please give an example of "ironically" used as a conjunction. In common-or-garden English, it is employed as an adverb. (This is one of the few cases in English where an inflection actually provides a clue.)

      And, of course, when someone makes this claim it's nearly always because they have no idea what "irony" means.

  20. John Savard Silver badge

    Too obscure

    Language is a tool of communication; words that have to be looked up in the dictionary - if it even has them - will not perform that function. I've certainly heard of the world "perambulate", but not "obambulate"; I've heard "flapdoodle" and "caterwaul", but not "concinnity". So it's too late for some of those words; they would have had to have been revived while they were still being used to some limited extent.

    Around the time of Shakespeare, there was a whole slew of words called "inkhorn" words that were coined which quickly died out; I don't think they're worth reviving.

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Too obscure

      Language is a tool of communication; words that have to be looked up in the dictionary - if it even has them - will not perform that function.

      Several millennia worth of figurative uses of language, particularly in poetry, say otherwise.

      Indeed, this sentence is one of the dreariest, least imaginative, and least plausible descriptions of language I've ever read.

    2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Too obscure

      "Around the time of Shakespeare, there was a whole slew of words called "inkhorn" words that were coined which quickly died out; I don't think they're worth reviving."

      'Twas ever thus. A year or two back we had whole newspaper articles about "omnishambles", but where is it now?

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If you happen to follow Jack of Kent/David Allen Green on twitter you'll see flapdoodle used quite regularly.

  22. Sarev

    Discombobulate

    Makes me smile every time I imagine Rowan Atkinson saying it. Especially the "bob" bit.

  23. agricola
    Boffin

    It's (or maybe that's 'its'. Or perhaps 'thats its') all your fault---

    If you Brits hadn't had the poor grace to lose (or is that 'loose') the BIG one back in the 1770s, we'd all be speaking English today.

    "It's a poor mind as can't think of at least two or three ways to spell a word."

    --Andrew Jackson

    1. Mooseman Bronze badge

      Re: It's (or maybe that's 'its'. Or perhaps 'thats its') all your fault---

      You do speak English, albeit a curious mixture of modernisms and 17th century forms that Britain moved away from, for example "gotten", a word that sounds bizarre to most ears this side of the pond, but we are all happy to use "forgotten".

      American English is, however, guilty of the heinous crime of popularising "off of" instead of "off" or "from".

  24. Identity
    Coat

    Amen,brother,

    but as e'er, eschew obfuscation!

  25. Steve Aubrey

    Circumoculate

    "To take a look around"

    My submission for a neologism that should not be lost.

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Circumoculate

      Useful when translating Michigan's state motto.

      1. jukejoint

        Re: Circumoculate

        I might be the only one here that knows Michigan's state motto.

        The motto could describe San Francisco as well... I salute you!

  26. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge
    Joke

    May I be the first...

    ... to offer the team my contrafibularities.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: May I be the first...

      No - beaten to the punch several times, several pages back, I'm afraid.

  27. BongoJoe
    Coat

    Words already lost include

    Irony

  28. Spanners Silver badge

    Perhaps USA only

    There are quite a plethora of words on that list that we can use without being too ostentatious and we could natter on trying to clear out the gobbledygook but people on that side of the pond are incorrigible about their misuse of the language.

    Also I think that their definition of "moot" seems wrong but they are doing it anyway.

    1. Heimdall

      Re: Perhaps USA only

      There IS quite a plethora of words..... plethora is a singular noun, so it takes the singular verb....

  29. Geoffrey W Silver badge

    Those words look like something a neckbeard would use

  30. Howard Hanek Bronze badge
    Headmaster

    We Need Another Johnson

    The modern english 'language' mirrors Latin Vulgate. Yes, I mean we ARE vulgar aren't we? I'm reading this 'publication' which I find to be proof enough........

  31. Daniel von Asmuth Bronze badge
    Headmaster

    Autothalassic

    My favarite: a rare word occurring in 'Roverandom' by J.R.R. Tolkien, apparently meaning 'sprung from the sea'.

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