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Off topic: Stephen Fry's view on language purism
Thread poster: Heinrich Pesch

Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 14:22
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Jun 27, 2013

http://www.upworthy.com/stephen-fry-takes-a-firm-stance-on-grammar-he-doesnt-go-the-way-youd-think-2?g=2&c=upw1

Enjoy!


 

Bernard Lieber  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:22
English to French
+ ...
Excellent Jun 27, 2013

Hi Heinrich,

Thanks for sharing.

Bernard


 

JaneD  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 13:22
Member (2009)
Swedish to English
+ ...
Great! Jun 27, 2013

What a sensible diatribe.

 

Jane Proctor  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 13:22
French to English
Yet Jun 27, 2013

there is some contradiction in that it is Fry's distinctive articulate manner that allows him to get his point across sooooo well!

Love the "choreography" too.


 

Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 20:22
Chinese to English
Too much of a good thing (words) is... Jun 28, 2013

...wonderful!

But do they blubber and froth and slobber and cream with joy at language?
...I doubt it. They are too farting busy sneering...


 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 13:22
Member (Apr 2018)
French to English
agree! Jun 28, 2013

Phil Hand wrote:

...wonderful!

But do they blubber and froth and slobber and cream with joy at language?
...I doubt it. They are too farting busy sneering...


I loved that bit too and must admit to plenty of blubbering and frothing and creaming when reading my favourite authors.

(Slobbering I leave to the dog though)


 

Suzan Hamer  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 13:22
English
+ ...
Ah, sound-sex. Jun 28, 2013

"Language is a complimentary moist lemon-scented cleansing square or handy freshen-up wipette. Language is the breath of God, the dew on a fresh apple, it's the soft rain of dust that falls into a shaft of morning sun when you pull from an old bookshelf a forgotten volume of erotic diaries; language is the faint scent of urine on a pair of boxer shorts, it's a half-remembered childhood birthday party, a creak on the stair, a spluttering match held to a frosted pane, the warm wet, trusting touch of a leaking nappy, the hulk of a charred Panzer, the underside of a granite boulder, the first downy growth on the upper lip of a Mediterranean girl, cobwebs long since overrun by an old Wellington boot.”

Here's 7 minutes more of Fry using language "to seduce, charm, excite, please, affirm and tickle" us.
http://www.stephenfry.com/2013/06/15/a-bit-of-fry-laurie-concerning-language/


And here I was trying to get some work done today (which, alas, does require me to be somewhat pedantic. Verbing such as "gifting" still bothers the hell out of me, but from now on with the words of St. Fry in mind, I will try not to cringe when I hear it. Will I let it go in a text I'm editing? Depends on the "context, convention and circumstances," to quote Mr. Fry.)



[Edited at 2013-06-28 10:37 GMT]

[Edited at 2013-06-28 10:38 GMT]

[Edited at 2013-06-28 11:09 GMT]


 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:22
Spanish to English
+ ...
More of the same, please Jun 28, 2013

Suzan Hamer wrote:


Here's 7 minutes more of Fry using language "to seduce, charm, excite, please, affirm and tickle" us.
http://www.stephenfry.com/2013/06/15/a-bit-of-fry-laurie-concerning-language/

Verbing such as "gifting" still bothers the hell out of me, but from now with the words of St. Fry in mind, I will try not to cringe when I hear it. Will I let it go in a text I'm editing? Depends on the "context, convention and circumstances," to quote Mr. Fry.)



[Edited at 2013-06-28 10:37 GMT]

[Edited at 2013-06-28 10:38 GMT]


Thanks for that. I usually go to great lengths to avoid using "impact" as a verb, although am more circumspect about "gifting"...


 

Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:22
Hebrew to English
"Gifting" deserves a cringe Jun 28, 2013

Suzan Hamer wrote:
Verbing such as "gifting" still bothers the hell out of me, but from now on with the words of St. Fry in mind, I will try not to cringe when I hear it. Will I let it go in a text I'm editing? Depends on the "context, convention and circumstances," to quote Mr. Fry.)


I just can't get on board with "to gift", fry-endorsed or not.icon_biggrin.gif


 

Suzan Hamer  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 13:22
English
+ ...
Maybe we are too easily peeved, Ty. Jun 28, 2013

Ty Kendall wrote:

Suzan Hamer wrote:
Verbing such as "gifting" still bothers the hell out of me, but from now on with the words of St. Fry in mind, I will try not to cringe when I hear it. Will I let it go in a text I'm editing? Depends on the "context, convention and circumstances," to quote Mr. Fry.)


I just can't get on board with "to gift", fry-endorsed or not.icon_biggrin.gif



Yeah, but be that as it may, look:

"The use of gift as a verb is not new, at least according to the Oxford English Dictionary, which lists examples of gift used to mean to make a present of from as early as the 17th century. Yet Google uncovers numerous web pages devoted to griping about this use of the word, suggesting that it is a fairly common usage peeve."

....

"In any case, many people who pay attention to these things have an odd aversion to the use of words outside their conventional part-of-speech roles—adjectives used as nouns, nouns used as verbs, and so on. But this sort of thing has gone on throughout the history of English—and no doubt it has always peeved some small percentage of the people living through any given change—and it’s one of the qualities that gives English its color and versatility. Resistance to new uses of words is understandable, but any insistence that new uses of words are simply wrong is based on an unrealistic view of how English is supposed to work." (http://grammarist.com/usage/gift/)

Which is exactly what Fry is talking about... but the article does go on to say: "Of course, personal taste is another matter, and no one is ever forced to adopt a word he or she doesn’t like." Thank goodness.


 

Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:22
Hebrew to English
Language aesthetics Jun 28, 2013

Suzan Hamer wrote:

Ty Kendall wrote:

Suzan Hamer wrote:
Verbing such as "gifting" still bothers the hell out of me, but from now on with the words of St. Fry in mind, I will try not to cringe when I hear it. Will I let it go in a text I'm editing? Depends on the "context, convention and circumstances," to quote Mr. Fry.)


I just can't get on board with "to gift", fry-endorsed or not.icon_biggrin.gif



Yeah, but be that as it may, look: ...


My lecturers at university spent 4 years drilling the futility of linguistic purism into me, but still.....
I know the futility of arguing against it on a linguistic basis, so I don't usually, I just think aesthetically, it always makes me shudder like someone is scratching a blackboard with their nails.

Strangely, I'm even more of a linguistic purist in my non-native source language!icon_biggrin.gif

[Edited at 2013-06-28 15:07 GMT]


 

Suzan Hamer  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 13:22
English
+ ...
I've developed a theory about word sensitivity. Jun 28, 2013

Ty Kendall wrote:

.... I just think aesthetically, it always makes me shudder like someone is scratching a blackboard with their nails.

Strangely, I'm even more of a linguistic purist in my non-native source language!icon_biggrin.gif


There are certain English words my bilingual daughter just cannot bear, and like you, she aesthetically (and sometimes physically) shudders when she hears them. (Or laughs. I have to watch what I say to her in public.) For example, gazebo, constituent, ointment, spatula, ilk and luncheon... (I've never asked her if there are Dutch words that equally irk her.)

This affliction is based, apparently, merely on the sound of such words, not the context or meaning. However, referring back to your metaphor, I suspect perhaps the reason we cringe at verbs as nouns (for example), may have something to do with the sound.

I've yet to come up with a name for this: logo-something? Any suggestions?

[Edited at 2013-06-28 15:56 GMT]

By the way, even though she doesn't speak Hebrew, shmoneh ("8") delights my daughter.

[Edited at 2013-06-28 16:48 GMT]


 

Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:22
Hebrew to English
Sounds Jun 28, 2013

Suzan Hamer wrote:
By the way, even though she doesn't speak Hebrew, shmoneh ("8") delights my daughter.

[Edited at 2013-06-28 16:17 GMT]


I agree, sometimes it's the mere sound of a word which turns one's stomach (or conversely delights someone).

I can't quite pin down my dislike for "gift" as a verb. The sound doesn't really bother me, and I'm not usually fazed by nouns becoming verbs... perhaps it harks back to my days of learning German, if I recall "Gift" in German is "poison"...perhaps somewhere in my mind I'm making a connection, thinking they're saying "he gifted [poisoned] her...". It's a stretch but I can't think where else this aversion to it comes from.

P.S I was always much fonder of אחד and חמש
(1) and (5) respectively. But that's because I'm a big fan of the voiceless uvular fricative.icon_smile.gif

[Edited at 2013-06-28 17:31 GMT]


 

Suzan Hamer  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 13:22
English
+ ...
For me, it's אנחנו Jun 28, 2013

Ty Kendall wrote:


P.S I was always much fonder of אחד and חמש

(1) and (9) respectively. But that's because I'm a big fan of the voiceless uvular fricative.icon_smile.gif




That's how I started learning Hebrew.... On my first trip to Israel, I would notice words because they sounded interesting (or funny) to me, and kept driving people nuts asking what they meant...

(Don't you mean 5 instead of 9?)

[Edited at 2013-06-28 16:54 GMT]

[Edited at 2013-06-28 17:47 GMT]


 

Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:22
Hebrew to English
Oops! Jun 28, 2013

Didn't change it (done now!) ..coz I was going to say I like "teisha" too! lol

And I'm glad I'm not the only "anachnu" fan!icon_biggrin.gificon_biggrin.gif in fact, I go out of my way to say it!icon_smile.gif ...short of using the Royal "we" though!

[Edited at 2013-06-28 17:32 GMT]


 
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