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Boy! Is English confusing to non-natural speakers like me!

 
 
Reply Tue 23 Dec, 2008 11:26 am
Inflammable should mean something is not flammable. Intoxicated should mean one is not drunk. If one is drunk, he would be toxicated. Right? Inclement weather should be good weather, as it implies the weather is not clement. But clement means good or favorable.

Oh well.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 12 • Views: 2,217 • Replies: 29
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Green Witch
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Dec, 2008 11:37 am
@easyasabc,
It's confusing for English speakers too. I recently had to explain to a child why a female can refer to her female friends as "girlfriends", but males do not refer to their male friends as "boyfriends". "Boyfriend" always indicates a romantic connection while "girlfriend" can be romantic or platonic.
0 Replies
 
InfraBlue
 
  2  
Reply Tue 23 Dec, 2008 11:56 am
Quote:
Inflammable should mean something is not flammable. Intoxicated should mean one is not drunk. If one is drunk, he would be toxicated. Right? Inclement weather should be good weather, as it implies the weather is not clement. But clement means good or favorable.

The prefix 'in' has two meanings because of their different roots. Its Latin root means 'not, non; lack of'. It also has a Middle English root which itself is based on the Old English root in (en), meaning 'to put into or onto; to go into or onto; to cover or provide with; to cause to be; thoroughly'. So, 'inflammable' does mean 'not flammable', and 'inclement' does mean 'stormy' or 'showing no mercy--no clemency' while 'intoxicated' means 'drunk' .
It's part of English's bastard heritage.
easyasabc
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Dec, 2008 01:31 pm
@InfraBlue,
Well, if the Old English root is "en," it should be used instead of "in." It would make more sense if inflammable was enflammable; intoxicated was entoxicated and inclement was enclement.

I'm going to write the United States Language Czar to esplore the possibility of introducing legislation to get it changed -- before someone gets confused and injured.

Thanks to everyone for the responses -- and Merry Christmas (can I say that without being banned)?
InfraBlue
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Dec, 2008 02:00 pm
easyasabc wrote:
Well, if the Old English root is "en," it should be used instead of "in." It would make more sense if inflammable was enflammable; intoxicated was entoxicated and inclement was enclement.

We don't speak Old English, seeing as how it's an extinct language. The word wasn't written 'en' in Old English, however, it was witten 'in', but the meaning is that of the prefix 'en-'.
0 Replies
 
Phoenix32890
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Dec, 2008 02:13 pm
@easyasabc,
Quote:
Inflammable should mean something is not flammable.


And flammable is a synonym of inflammable. Hey, we just do it to confuse people! Wink

Merry Christmas to you too!
0 Replies
 
McTag
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Dec, 2008 02:26 pm
@easyasabc,

You're going to write to the United States Language Czar....to get English changed?

Ahem.
hamburger
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Dec, 2008 02:53 pm
@McTag,
for a little fun , read the book : between you and i - a little book of bad english - by james cochrane .

it's a slim volume but packs a lot of punch (cochrane probably wouldn't approve of my comments - bad , bad bad , he would say) .

example :
incentivise : anyone with an ear for english will want to avoid this hideous recent coinaage ...

see book review :

http://www.fun-with-words.com/between_you_and_i.html
InfraBlue
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Dec, 2008 03:34 pm
Geez, I just re-read my first post. Sorry for adding to the confusion.
0 Replies
 
McTag
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Dec, 2008 05:16 pm
@hamburger,

I may buy this book. It sounds just right for an old curmudgeon like me.

Indeed, I myself put the "envy vs. jealousy" question on the Peeves thread recently.
And I once complained to the BBC that one of their editors on the website was writing "wet your appetites" when she meant "whet", the old word for "sharpen".
Foofie
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Dec, 2008 05:37 pm
In my opinion, is it just not enough to be born in the U.S., to speak English correctly without great effort, nor is it just enough to be born into a family in the U.S. that just speaks English, to speak English correctly without great effort. One ideally should be born into a family, in the U.S., that speaks an educated English correctly, to speak English correctly without great effort, I believe.

Rockhead
 
  2  
Reply Tue 23 Dec, 2008 05:42 pm
@Foofie,
Ideally where should one be born not to speak in run on sentences, Foof?
hamburger
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Dec, 2008 05:55 pm
@McTag,
mctag :

i picked up several books about the english language when there was a discussion about the OED on a2k recently .
this little book is a gem .

off of
.........
to say and write "off of" , as in 'it fell off of a lorry' , is not acceptable standard english .
'it fell off a lorry' is correct english irrespective of the truth or falsehood of the statement .

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
in canada nothing ever falls off a lorry , but things may fall off of a truck <GRIN>

ps. may english will probably not improve much by reading this book and others about the english language - but it sure is fun to catch other colonials making mistakes .
Foofie
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Dec, 2008 05:55 pm
@Rockhead,
I do not like short concise sentences. I like to freely use parenthetical phrases. If it is hard to read, and comprehend, it is also hard to write. I give myself poetical license.
McTag
 
  1  
Reply Wed 24 Dec, 2008 03:12 am
@Foofie,

You give yourself more than that.

I was glad to learn something I did not previously know, that to speak English correctly one has to have been born somewhere in the US.
Francis
 
  0  
Reply Wed 24 Dec, 2008 03:17 am
@Foofie,
Foofie wrote:
I like to freely use parenthetical phrases.


I'd say you freely use pathetical phrases.



0 Replies
 
Phoenix32890
 
  1  
Reply Wed 24 Dec, 2008 05:07 am
@hamburger,
Now you are talking about something completely different. English is not one, but many languages. You have American English, British English, Canadian English, Indian English, etc. Besides the differeces in words and expressions, there are various accents, not only amongst the different countries, but within regions of a country. There are also class differences in the way English is spoken.

Last night I was on the phone with a customer service person. He was obviously British (surprise). I had to ask him to speak more slowly, because I could not understand him.
Foofie
 
  1  
Reply Wed 24 Dec, 2008 11:16 am
@McTag,
McTag wrote:


You give yourself more than that.

I was glad to learn something I did not previously know, that to speak English correctly one has to have been born somewhere in the US.


American English. To speak it with ease. To think in American English.
0 Replies
 
Foofie
 
  1  
Reply Wed 24 Dec, 2008 11:24 am
@Phoenix32890,
Phoenix32890 wrote:

Now you are talking about something completely different. English is not one, but many languages. You have American English, British English, Canadian English, Indian English, etc. Besides the differeces in words and expressions, there are various accents, not only amongst the different countries, but within regions of a country. There are also class differences in the way English is spoken.

Last night I was on the phone with a customer service person. He was obviously British (surprise). I had to ask him to speak more slowly, because I could not understand him.



However, I believe, the reason the "world" is learning English today is because the U.S.A speaks American English, not because there is a British English, and Indian English, etc.

I shan't be afraid to give the Yanks credit for promulgating the language.
Walter Hinteler
 
  2  
Reply Wed 24 Dec, 2008 11:36 am
@Foofie,
Foofie wrote:

However, I believe, the reason the "world" is learning English today is because the U.S.A speaks American English, not because there is a British English, and Indian English, etc.

I shan't be afraid to give the Yanks credit for promulgating the language.


You'r so right: it all started with the American Empire, or even earlier with it's first tentative efforts to establish overseas settlements in the 16th century.

And then, of course, all those famous American authors from the last couple of centuries, whose numerous books intended as guides to American grammar and language until today.

Not to forget that the lingua americana replaced Latin as the language of diplomacy ...


 

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