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Coronavirus is wrecking the English language
Thread poster: Tom in London

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
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Neither off topic nor personal but undoubtedly frivolous Mar 24

Tom in London wrote:
Which may hopefully also include a cure for the wrecked English language.

Oh the irony
While I really do have bigger fish to fry right now (like sourcing some feed for the hens), I just can’t let this abuse of the word “hopefully” pass...


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Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
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I agree Mar 24

People should not language wreck all over the place. I just had to forum post about it, because it nerve strains me. It's impacting the language so much.

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Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
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Yes, I agree. Mar 24

Mervyn Henderson wrote:

People should not language wreck all over the place. I just had to forum post about it, because it nerve strains me. It's impacting the language so much.


It languages me so much.


Mervyn Henderson
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esperantisto  Identity Verified
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Great Mar 24

Mervyn Henderson wrote:

People should not language wreck


This wording sounds really great in the context of this discussion.


 

Andrew Morris
ProZ.com team
Off with his head! Mar 24

I wonder how would this forum have dealt with one William Shakespeare, language-wrecker extraordinaire, who coined (amongst thousands of other examples), the following: amazement, assassinate, baseless, footfall, footlicker, murkiest, printless, rootedly and sea-change.

Whenever he saw a gap in the language, or found what was already there not quite to his taste, he just made something up. As I'm pretty sure people felt amazed, or murdered important bods well before the 16th centur
... See more
I wonder how would this forum have dealt with one William Shakespeare, language-wrecker extraordinaire, who coined (amongst thousands of other examples), the following: amazement, assassinate, baseless, footfall, footlicker, murkiest, printless, rootedly and sea-change.

Whenever he saw a gap in the language, or found what was already there not quite to his taste, he just made something up. As I'm pretty sure people felt amazed, or murdered important bods well before the 16th century, and had no problem expressing themselves.

Surely, a case for the Tower?
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Thomas T. Frost
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Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
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Zounds Mar 24

Maybe he did a bit of wrecking in his day, but the lad done good in so many other areas. I wish I had the time and the ability to express the awe I feel for Mr S. Even if he was really Mr M.

I can't see him having any problem with the phrase being discussed:

+++
Duke Arsène of Nulle-Part:
I prithee, fair lady, wherefore dost thou shun my humble self and thus amaze me so?

Princess Lavinia of Orléans:
Good my lord, I vouchsafe my regalness
... See more
Maybe he did a bit of wrecking in his day, but the lad done good in so many other areas. I wish I had the time and the ability to express the awe I feel for Mr S. Even if he was really Mr M.

I can't see him having any problem with the phrase being discussed:

+++
Duke Arsène of Nulle-Part:
I prithee, fair lady, wherefore dost thou shun my humble self and thus amaze me so?

Princess Lavinia of Orléans:
Good my lord, I vouchsafe my regalness and my princessness cannot tarry with thy dukeness and thy humbleness, and I fear I must social distance. I therefore must needs beseech thee, my duke, sling thy hook.
+++

Vouchsafe, there's one Willy has all over the shop. You're nobody if you don't vouchsafe occasionally. You can't "vouch safe" or "safe vouch", though. Now that WOULD be language-wrecking.

[Edited at 2020-03-24 18:04 GMT]

[Edited at 2020-03-24 18:05 GMT]

[Edited at 2020-03-25 08:42 GMT]

[Edited at 2020-03-25 08:57 GMT]
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Andrew Morris
 

Michael Newton  Identity Verified
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coronavirus wrecking the English language Mar 25

Interesting to see that buttons are now being used to "batten down the hatches". Perhaps they are high-tech rivets.

Mervyn Henderson
 

Tea Komšić  Identity Verified
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Expected Mar 25

Well, this was expected. When new situations occur, new lexemes also arise. That is the nature of language. Maybe some of them are bad, and some of them are masterpieces, but it is not something we can avoid it, especially in this 'IT time'. As far as I can see, many people use the term you said, 'I am social distancing', mostly on social media, and most of them are young people (again, this is from my view). This happens every day, as people are trying to simplify language, and transfer the eve... See more
Well, this was expected. When new situations occur, new lexemes also arise. That is the nature of language. Maybe some of them are bad, and some of them are masterpieces, but it is not something we can avoid it, especially in this 'IT time'. As far as I can see, many people use the term you said, 'I am social distancing', mostly on social media, and most of them are young people (again, this is from my view). This happens every day, as people are trying to simplify language, and transfer the everyday language into the world of Internet. My BA thesis was also based on this phenomenon in the English language, and the conclusion was: cases like this are always happening and they will continue to happen.
But, it is an interesting topic to discuss about, and it is always great to see new views and opinions about this.
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Tom in London
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Yes, but Mar 25

Yes, Tea, but there's a difference between the natural evolution of language, and simple illiteracy.

Mervyn Henderson
 

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
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Illiteracy is natural. Mar 25

Tom in London wrote:

Yes, Tea, but there's a difference between the natural evolution of language, and simple illiteracy.


Illiteracy is part of evolution of language. Little kids make typical structural errors as their language and speech evolves. Language is much more than literacy.


Tom in London
Mervyn Henderson
Fatine777
 

Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
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Evolution Mar 25

You never know - soon "to social distance" may evolve to become "to socialdistance". Both of them rather ugly, though, I agree. Or are we nitpicking here? As opposed to nit picking, of course.

 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
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Yes, but Mar 25

Lingua 5B wrote something like:

*Small children* typically make structural errors as their language and speech evolves.


Yes, but adults?


 

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Not all people read books or are too literate. Mar 25

Tom in London wrote:

Lingua 5B wrote something like:

*Small children* typically make structural errors as their language and speech evolves.


Yes, but adults?


it doesn't even mean they lack education, just their subject may not be related to language or communication. It does not mean however they cannot communicate. Just because someone used an unusual word it does not mean they cannot communicate effectively. It's important to see big picture rather than individual words.


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
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Italian to English
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Illiteracy Mar 25

Illiteracy in one's own native language is never acceptable in adults and must always be distinguished from the natural evolution of that language.

[Edited at 2020-03-25 10:27 GMT]


Stefano Papaleo
 

Joe France  Identity Verified
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Function over style Mar 25

Tom in London wrote:

Illiteracy in one's own native language is never acceptable in adults and must always be distinguished from the natural evolution of that language.

[Edited at 2020-03-25 10:27 GMT]


Do you not think that, given the severity of the situation, a little linguistic flexibility is the least we can do? If it's become common practice, at least it shows people are understanding the instruction.

Tom, your suggestion – "keeping a distance" – doesn't convey the actual concept of distancing yourself from social contact and not socialising nearly as effectively as the (admittedly grammatically imperfect) version "to social distance". "Social"/"society" are the key terms here and, after all, don't we translators convey meaning, not words...?

If it means the instruction to keep to yourself and avoid the rest of society is penetrating and becoming part of regular discourse, what really is the problem? Doesn't that actually make it more effective and thus better than a grammatically flawless but more ambiguous phrase? I'd argue the key issue now is creating a clear message and ensuring message penetration.


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