Hi Ru2013! Some of these words have the "y" sound in some dialects but not in others. In my American dialect, "duke" does not have the "y" sound, but in a British dialect, it does. See the comments below for more. :-)
I opted for "exclamation mark" over "exclamation point" on the grounds that the symbol in question is more than just a point -- it's a point with a vertical line over it. But that's just me being fussy. Is there some more reasonable reason to choose "exclamation mark"?
I don't usually use more than one exclamation mark, but when I do, I use an odd number of them!!! For example, three exclamation marks, or five!!!!! Or even seven, if I'm feeling particularly maniacal!!!!!!!
For some reason, an even number of exclamation marks just looks wrong!!
Seanahan made a very good point, earlier in this thread. (Uh, six years earlier, actually. I'm kind of late to this discussion.) In some languages, double negatives are interpreted as negatives. In fact, some dialects of English do the same thing. You could say, for example, "That ain't no moon!" and it would mean the same thing as "That's no moon!"
There's a larger question, which is whether it's better for a language to interpret double negatives as positives or as negatives. The former is more logical; the latter is more natural. I wish we could come up with a rule that's both logical AND natural, but I don't know what that would be.
There's a poster in my workplace that says "The important thing is not to stop questioning". I agree with the sentiment, but the grammar drives me crazy. My brain parses it as "X is not Y", or "(The important thing) is not (to stop questioning)", and so every time I see it, I think "Well, then what is the important thing? Tell me! Don't leave me in suspense, you wretched poster!"
This is why it's important to give people the freedom to split infinitives. Using a split infinitive, you can reword the sentence as "The important thing is to not stop questioning", which is nice and tidy and clear.
6:30 a.m.: Polls open in Ohio. Expect a floodgate of attention to surround this battleground state where the presidential candidates have invested enormous resources into winning its 18 electoral votes. --NPR
A "floodgate of attention"? I don't think that metaphor works.
OncoMouse does electronica. Berzerk Llama Syndrome is a jam band that does twenty-minute improvisations. Cat Scratch Fever is a retro swing band. Duck Plague is one guy in a basement with a cheap synthesizer.
When I pronounce this word, my instinct is to leave out the C, and say"ant-AR-ti-cuh". But I know that that's not correct, so I have a little mental reminder that tells me to insert the C. Unfortunately, though, I tend to overcorrect and say "anct-ARC-ti-cuh", with an extra C before the first T.
Interestingly, the C that gives me so much trouble is a relatively recent addition. I figure that some priggishlinguist in the 17th century decided that the word had to conform to its ancient Greek roots, and now we're stuck with the C. It's a shame, really. "Antartica" would be much more simple to pronounce and spell.
I find myself getting angry whenever I hear someone use the word "podium" to refer to a lectern. We already have a perfectly good word for lecterns, so why not just use it? Calling a lectern a podium seems so gratuitous and pointless.
But, on reflection, it's not gratuitous. In all likelihood, people just don't know the word "lectern", and so they're using the only word they do know that describes the object in question. We can't fault them for that, can we?
And I suppose I needn't worry that "podium" will soon have two meanings, because the original meaning of "podium" (an elevated platform for a public speaker to stand on) appears to be dead. Ask a typical English speaker what a "podium" is, and he or she will probably describe a lectern, not an elevated platform. And we have the word "dais" to describe elevated platforms, so I needn't worry that that particular concept will become nameless.
It all makes logical sense when I type it out like this, but nevertheless, I know I'm still going to fret about it. :-/
For a word that means chaos and violence, "mayhem" is actually a rather tidy and dignified pair of syllables. With a capital M, Mayhem looks to me like the name of a small village in the English countryside, the kind of place that where you'd find carefully-trimmed window boxes and an interesting selection of doilies.
Prescriptive grammarians would probably say yes, it is an error, because it's missing the word "at". It should be "What time should I pick you up at?" or "At what time should I pick you up?"
If these grammarians are also copy editors, they might suggest the phrasing "When should I pick you up?", which avoids the "what time" construction entirely. After all, English already has a perfectly good word for asking questions about time ("when"), so, the editors might say, why not just use it?
Actually, I think there's a jolly good reason to use "what time" instead of "when". I don't think they mean the same thing.
My idea is that people use "what time" to refer to time on a clock, as opposed to time on a calendar. For example, if you ask someone "When did you arrive in London?", they might answer "Last Thursday", which isn't helpful if what you're really inquiring about is the arrival time of their train. So, instead, you can ask "What time did you arrive in London?", a question to which "Last Thursday" is not a sensible response.
If I'm right about this, then "what time" is a two-word idiom that functions as one word, rather like "how much" or "how many" or the Spanish "por qué".
Huh. So, if it is an idiom, does this explain the absence of "at"?
Great, thanks! I had been stricken with indecision about which pronunciation to use (they're both equally prevalent in American English), but this decides the issue. From now on, I shall emulate the elocutions of the emu experts.
I just found out about this: http://www.cognatarium.com/cognatarium/?K=pter (by which I mean that I just found out about the site, but also that there's such a lovely connection between pterodactyls, helicopters, and butterflies).
For a short time (after the latest switchover) your profile wasn't visible--I even went to the new feedback whatsit and made a "Where's the pterodactyl" topic.
I know some creatures (bilbies, bears, and even foxes) seem to be endangered, but with my (admittedly limited) knowledge of the fate of most pterodactyls... well... let's just say I was worried, but I'm much happier now.
You cannot escape the charge that you have previously engaged in the amazing pastime that is IDENTIFY THE WORDIE. You are therefore prime target material for inviting to IDENTIFY THE WORDIENIK. The whole of the bit of Wordnik that joins in on this would be truly honoured should you participate this time round. Easily find the right page right now because it is currently the most commented on list shown on the Community page.
In your past comment for aril, you mentioned the four letters of that word can form six different words, and asked if any other 4 letters could form six words. O, P, S, T can be arranged to spell stop, post, opts, tops, spot, and pots.
Because I am not merely a gentleman, but also a pedant, I must point out that the phrase "icy vacuum of outer space" is just poetic license. A vacuum cannot be cold, any more than it can be hot, because heat is a property of matter, and a vacuum contains no matter (well, virtually no matter, anyway).
As for the aesthetic qualities of my underthings, well, a reptile's got to have some secrets, hasn't he?
Oh deary me. Well, I am in a bit of a pickle now, aren't I? The secret is out. However shall I live this down?
No, the truth is, the embarrassing antics described therein were perpetrated by one of my disreputable cousins. Personally, I strive to be a more civilized specimen of the order Pterosauria. While I do indulge in the occasional interspecies affaire d'amour, I always adhere strictly to the rules of gentlemanly conduct, such as removing my hat in the presence of ladies, laying down my jacket across any muddy patches in a lady's path, and never subjecting a lady to the icy vacuum of outer space.
Another content customer, what an honor. :-) Yet strictly speaking you’re not yet covered by the License to Err since as of now—unless it’s a cache issue—you haven’t added it to any lists. But that reminds me of an emendation I was planning to apply—an important emendation, at least for as long as we still have Time separating past and future. Thanks.
For too long I have been treading gingerly through life, eschewing any risk for fear that I might somehow err. Well, no longer. Thanks to telofy and Wordie PRO!, I now have license to err. That's right, boys and girls -- if I screw up now, no big deal! I just laugh about it and get on with my life.