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

Andrew Morris
ProZ.com team
Illiteracy? Mar 25

I'm surprised by the rather subjective use of "illiteracy" in this debate.

My dictionary offers up:

1. the inability to read or write: the ineffective educational system meant that illiteracy was widespread.
2. lack of knowledge in a particular subject; ignorance: his economic illiteracy.

That's a hefty charge to lob at someone just because their neologisms don't meet our own individual approval.

For the record, I don't li
... See more
I'm surprised by the rather subjective use of "illiteracy" in this debate.

My dictionary offers up:

1. the inability to read or write: the ineffective educational system meant that illiteracy was widespread.
2. lack of knowledge in a particular subject; ignorance: his economic illiteracy.

That's a hefty charge to lob at someone just because their neologisms don't meet our own individual approval.

For the record, I don't like "social distance" as a verb either, but I can see it has a functional purpose (otherwise it wouldn't exist) and think it's still a rather interesting example of how language moves, adapts, keeps up with the times.

And always has, just as there have always been those who've resisted change...
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Joe France
Lingua 5B
Chris S
Michele Fauble
Fatine777
Kay Denney
Julia Burgess
 

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 16:33
Member (2009)
German to Serbian
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Bridges... Mar 25

I may not like a position, look, design or construction of a certain bridge but that does not deny the fact it helps thousands of people cross the river and move from one side of the city to the other on a daily basis. See, function matters. In the first case it's just me, in the latter case it's thousands of people.

[Edited at 2020-03-25 14:26 GMT]


Mervyn Henderson
Emily Scott
Joe France
Michele Fauble
Kay Denney
 

Stefano Papaleo  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 16:33
Member (2005)
English to Italian
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Just another USELESS buzzword Mar 25

Whether it's used as a noun or a verb, it is just another stupid buzzword that we did not need, and that is just invading communication acting like the new shiny toy or 'the new kid on the block' whom everyone wants to meet because it makes one feel 'cool'.

If used as a verb, it should be punishable with one month of compulsory silence, both verbal and written - Black-Mirror-style

Let's not attribute to it
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Whether it's used as a noun or a verb, it is just another stupid buzzword that we did not need, and that is just invading communication acting like the new shiny toy or 'the new kid on the block' whom everyone wants to meet because it makes one feel 'cool'.

If used as a verb, it should be punishable with one month of compulsory silence, both verbal and written - Black-Mirror-style

Let's not attribute to it some magical features and make it such a profound and novel concept or get into some convoluted philosophical argument and make it more than what it really is.

'Keeping your distance' is what it is, plain and simple. It's physical distance (100% of the cases, given you don't catch a virus by thinking last time I checked) or metaphorical (any example? None that comes to mind. You'll still address your boss the same way you did before the quarantine, and won't magically become best buddies). We needed this turn into a verb as we needed this dreadful disease. If you stay at home, it is pretty obvious to me you no longer have an intense so-called social life, unless it is a virtual one. You are keeping a PHYSICAL distance from other people, no one stopped using phones, etc. for work. leisure or affection - quite the opposite is true, isn't it? You stay a couple of metres apart in a queue, you stay home, etc. You are NOT 'social distancing' at all when you use SOCIAL media 24/7, still talk to people, sometimes even meet people, and you are certainly NOT becoming a hermit living in the woods, off the grid... now, are you?;)

Just another stupid term like 'smart working'

- Our firm has now adopted SMART working...
- Oh great. I'm glad you finally quit your STUPID working. That's progress!

Shakespeare played with the English language, and is still remembered, appreciated and studied today because he did it well, not because he came up with this crap
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Chris S
 

Jean Dimitriadis  Identity Verified
France
Member
English to French
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Descriptive vs normative approach Mar 25

When it comes to grammar, I'd take a descriptive over a normative approach any day.

Andrew Morris
Lingua 5B
Zibow Retailleau
Tea Komšić
Mervyn Henderson
Michele Fauble
Joe France
 

DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
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Social distance Mar 25

Languages constantly change, so no prob.

I have nothing against 'social distancing' and other cool terms, for the true issue is non-linguistic, but social:
When people are separated and independent, would they find a good reason to re-unite or become closer?
Not just another funny coined word, right?


 

Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:33
Member
Spanish to English
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Tom Petty Mar 25

"Private messaged" me, dear me, there's another one. Now then, please tell me the name and surname of the musician you chose are totally coincidental.

And the Tom on YouTube must be private messaging you via an ouija board or something.

[Edited at 2020-03-25 15:40 GMT]


 

Tea Komšić  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 16:33
Member (Feb 2020)
English to Croatian
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It happens all the time. Mar 25

I must say that it is not the case of illiteracy that we have here. People are constantly coining new words that sound more natural for the situation in which they are. That was the case with Shakespeare, as Andrew said earlier, and that was also the case with Pushkin, who gave a new rise to the Russian language, by coming up with new words that made communication in Russian easier. It is just pure descriptive grammar. And it will always be present as long as people use it. For as I can see, the... See more
I must say that it is not the case of illiteracy that we have here. People are constantly coining new words that sound more natural for the situation in which they are. That was the case with Shakespeare, as Andrew said earlier, and that was also the case with Pushkin, who gave a new rise to the Russian language, by coming up with new words that made communication in Russian easier. It is just pure descriptive grammar. And it will always be present as long as people use it. For as I can see, the verb 'to social distance' perfectly fits the situation and time in which we are. Sure, it may not sound well, but that is how language works. Many new words that sound odd have entered some standard English language dictionaries. For others, we have special dictionaries (Urban dictionary) created particularly for such words. This is how language develops. Maybe today, this verb does not sound OK for us, but in the future it may be completely acceptable.Collapse


Jessica Noyes
 

TonyTK
German to English
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Let me just ... Mar 25

... lob this one over the fence.

It should really be called "physical distancing" - which doesn't solve Tom's problem but which is fine by me. When did all this huggin'n'kissin become the norm anyway?

When I was a teenager back in the 1960s, a curt nod was quite sufficient if you ran into someone you hadn't seen for years.


Beatriz Ramírez de Haro
Kay Denney
 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
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@Mervyn Mar 25

Mervyn Henderson wrote:
please tell me the name and surname of the musician you chose are totally coincidental.

OK, I will. They are. I'm not some kind of wind-up merchant, you know.


an ouija board

An? Wowzer.

I often get private messaged from the other side. It's the modern way. Even the spirits have to keep up with the times.


 

Michele Fauble  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:33
Member (2006)
Norwegian to English
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Languages change Mar 25

Emily Scott wrote:

We change the way we speak and how we use words over time, otherwise we'd still be speaking the same way as we did in the 1500s.


Or Tom would be translating from Latin, not Italian.


Emily Scott
Kay Denney
 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:33
Member (2008)
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
DEcision Mar 25

I have decided to social distance this forum and will not be posting here any more or as most of you lot would probably write, anymore.

 

Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:33
Member
Spanish to English
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If you can't beat them ... Mar 25

... join them. See how easily these things evolve? Why, only yesterday you were railing against it, and now you're using it quite naturally in a sentence.

As Red (Morgan Freeman) says in "The Sharpshank Redemption" about the prison walls that surround them: First you can't stand them, then you get used to them, eventually you need them, and in the end you can't do without them.


...

Well, I thought it was a good analogy ...


[Edited at 20
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... join them. See how easily these things evolve? Why, only yesterday you were railing against it, and now you're using it quite naturally in a sentence.

As Red (Morgan Freeman) says in "The Sharpshank Redemption" about the prison walls that surround them: First you can't stand them, then you get used to them, eventually you need them, and in the end you can't do without them.


...

Well, I thought it was a good analogy ...


[Edited at 2020-03-25 18:37 GMT]
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Emily Scott
 

MollyRose  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:33
Member (2010)
English to Spanish
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OT: any more or anymore Mar 25

It is interesting that Tom of London would mention "any more."

I have been writing "any more" and correcting when people would write "anymore," and then I found "anymore" in the dictionary! For example: They don't do things the way they used to anymore. I would say "any more." Even when used in a different order, such as: The Saint Bernard isn't any more a dog just because he is bigger than the other breeds.


I don't know of any case where the two words joined
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It is interesting that Tom of London would mention "any more."

I have been writing "any more" and correcting when people would write "anymore," and then I found "anymore" in the dictionary! For example: They don't do things the way they used to anymore. I would say "any more." Even when used in a different order, such as: The Saint Bernard isn't any more a dog just because he is bigger than the other breeds.


I don't know of any case where the two words joined would be grammatically correct. Wouldn't it have to be describing a noun? Or maybe they decided to join the two words in the U.S. and not in the U.K.? Anybody know?
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Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:33
Member
Spanish to English
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@Tom and @MollyRose Mar 25

I got to wondering about what Tom said too. Unlike MollyRose, I think I had been writing "anymore" for years, and then about a year ago I started wondering about it. I eventually started breaking it up into "any more", but it kept getting flagged in the spell check I always run pre-delivery, and I got fed up with that. So I thought to myself, Better not write any more anymore. No more, I resolved. Then again, it would never occur to me to write "nomore".

Gofigure.

[Edited a
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I got to wondering about what Tom said too. Unlike MollyRose, I think I had been writing "anymore" for years, and then about a year ago I started wondering about it. I eventually started breaking it up into "any more", but it kept getting flagged in the spell check I always run pre-delivery, and I got fed up with that. So I thought to myself, Better not write any more anymore. No more, I resolved. Then again, it would never occur to me to write "nomore".

Gofigure.

[Edited at 2020-03-25 21:08 GMT]
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Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 16:33
Member (2009)
German to Serbian
+ ...
Shame, shame. Mar 25

When I saw the last Tom in London's post, immediately the Shame, Shame scene popped up in my mind from the Game of Thrones. A woman walks because she wrote "anymore" as one word being publicly shamed and people on street keeping signs with the word "anymore" written as one word shaming her. I have no idea how this came up in my mind

On a more serious note, @Molly. I noticed your two examples have different meanings
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When I saw the last Tom in London's post, immediately the Shame, Shame scene popped up in my mind from the Game of Thrones. A woman walks because she wrote "anymore" as one word being publicly shamed and people on street keeping signs with the word "anymore" written as one word shaming her. I have no idea how this came up in my mind

On a more serious note, @Molly. I noticed your two examples have different meanings? Or am I missing something, see below:


1. They don't do things the way they used to anymore. (Here is denotes: any longer)

2. The Saint Bernard isn't any more a dog just because he is bigger than the other breeds. (Here it denotes an intensifier?)
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