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Thread: Crazy English phrases

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    The Hairy Wookie Mycernius's Avatar
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    Crazy English phrases



    I'd thought I'd inject a bit of humour and fun into the lingustic forum. Namely English words and phrases that seem strange. To kick off I shall start with one my brother pointed out over the weekend. The phrase near-miss normally implys that you nearly hit something. Surely near miss means you nearly missed it ie: you hit it. Wouldn't it be better if it was near-hit?

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    Pyro-GL Pilot d3jake's Avatar
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    Who says that the English language is supposed to make since?
    [techmech] 9:48 pm: women don't know what they want
    [d3jake] 9:49 pm: Duh?
    [techmech] 9:49 pm: and in other news, water is in fact wet

    [Blututh] 9:18 pm: men = steak, women = spaghetti
    [Blututh] 9:18 pm: very simple, very complicated

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    Chukchi Salmon
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    Since you make reference to make since, I'd like to do one with make do with.
    What is to make do with? To make do with something is to use an inferior substitute when the real good stuff isn't available.
    For example, one Japanese presentation class was supposed to make do with catsup instead of tomato paste for making pasta sauce.
    Since do carries the sense of positive action, shouldn't it be make half-do or make under-do ?

    Gasoline tankers and cargo trucks carrying combustibles often bear the sign, "flammable" when it should be "inflameable." Strange folk etymology has created strange words indeed.
    Z: The fish in the water are happy.
    H: How do you know ? You're not fish.
    Z: How do you know I don't ? You're not me.
    H: True I am not you, and I cannot know. Likewise, I know you're not, therefore I know you don't.
    Z: You asked me how I knew implying you knew I knew. In fact I saw some fish, strolling down by the Hao River, all jolly and gay.

    --Zhuangzi

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    ‚ ‚¢‚µ‚Ä‚é—¢ŠGŽq Damicci's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lexico
    Gasoline tankers and cargo trucks carrying combustibles often bear the sign, "flammable" when it should be "inflammable." Strange folk etymology has created strange words indeed.
    According to dictionary they mean the same thing. But inflameable is an older term. flammable is just commonly used now. Both meaning substance the can burned or set on fire.
    Usage Note: Historically, flammable and inflammable mean the same thing. However, the presence of the prefix in- has misled many people into assuming that inflammable means gnot flammableh or gnoncombustible.h The prefix -in in inflammable is not, however, the Latin negative prefix -in, which is related to the English -un and appears in such words as indecent and inglorious. Rather, this -in is an intensive prefix derived from the Latin preposition in. This prefix also appears in the word enflame. But many people are not aware of this derivation, and for clarity's sake it is advisable to use only flammable to give warnings.
    But onthe contrary inflammable can also be used ased a synonym for excited.
    "He is easily inflammable/excited."
    Ž„‚̐O‚̏ã‚ÅŒN‚̐O‚ðŠ´‚¶‚½‚¢BBBBB
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    –Ú˜^ Index's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mycernius
    I'd thought I'd inject a bit of humour and fun into the lingustic forum. Namely English words and phrases that seem strange. To kick off I shall start with one my brother pointed out over the weekend. The phrase near-miss normally implys that you nearly hit something. Surely near miss means you nearly missed it ie: you hit it. Wouldn't it be better if it was near-hit?
    I was under the impression that 'miss' in this case implied a failure, and so a near-miss is a success, or more accurately, a lack of failure. In other words, you almost failed or made a mistake, but luckily just succeeded.

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    Chukchi Salmon
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    Quote Originally Posted by Damicci
    According to dictionary they mean the same thing. But inflameable is an older term. flammable is just commonly used now. Both meaning substance the can burned or set on fire.

    But onthe contrary inflammable can also be used ased a synonym for excited.
    "He is easily inflammable/excited."
    Thanks for the research, Damici! Now I now you're also into words!
    Quote Originally Posted by Damicci
    But many people are not aware of this derivation, and for clarity's sake it is advisable to use only flammable to give warnings.
    Heehee..That's a interesting interpretation, but it makes sense for safety's sake. You don't want any misunderstanding there for sure. I'm just curious if this is another case of chicken and egg, or whether there was an actual misunderstanding that can be traced back. Was it someone's mistaken hypercorrection of inflammable-->flammable or did someone knowingly make the spelling adjustment for public safety ?
    Quote Originally Posted by Damicci
    Rather, this -in is an intensive prefix derived from the Latin preposition in. This prefix also appears in the word enflame.
    In addition to giving emphasis to verbs, this en- in- im- prefixes also have the interesting property of turning adjectives or nouns into verbs, I noticed, with the meaning of "make+(object)+adjective," "make+(object)+like+a+noun," often used together with the Latin verb ending -ate.

    1) verb->verb: endure, incinerate, incise, implore, intend,
    2) adjective->verb: inflict, intense, impale, enrich, impoverish
    3) noun->verb: indicate, induct, induce, inflame, impersonate, insinuate, inundate, endanger, engender, engulf, endorse, ensure, entangle, entrench, embark

    The -en -on suffix has similar usage, but that probably comes from the Germanic adjective maker also present in the past participle endings of strong verbs.

    1) verb->verb/adjective: reckon / smitten, striken, taken, trodden, rotten, ridden
    2) adjective->verb/adjective: darken, deepen, madden, redden, sadden, whiten /sunken, drunken
    3) noun->verb/adjective: beckon, lengthen, shorten, strengthen, lighten, enlighten (prefix & suffix) / ashen, earthen, golden, porcelain, silken, wooden, linen
    Last edited by lexico; 10-03-05 at 05:29.

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    Regular Member Sensuikan San's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lexico
    Thanks for the research, Damici! Now I now you're also into words! Heehee..That's a interesting interpretation, but it makes sense for safety's sake. You don't want any misunderstanding there for sure. I'm just curious if this is another case of chicken and egg, or whether there was an actual misunderstanding that can be traced back. Was it someone's mistaken hypercorrection of inflammable-->flammable or did someone knowingly make the spelling adjustment for public safety ?
    I believe it was the latter - and I haven't checked this out, but I believe Benjamin Franklin may have been the culprit, when he was busy "simplifying" English and English spelling for the benefit of our American cousins.

    If so, however, I am a little surprised (surprized ...?) with old Ben! Not only was he a colorful (colourful.... ?) old guy, but he was quite versed in English, Latin, and I believe Greek and French. But he does seem to have simplified his thinking by assuming that the "in" prefix posessed an unnecessary and 'incorrect' or illogical negative connotation that destroyed the true meaning of the word. In this regard, he was probably being a little inept ( ... but I've never met anyone who can be described as "ept" ... so...)

    What the heck .... he was probably right ..... !

    Suffice to say that "flammable" is always used in North America, whilst the normal term in the UK is "inflammable".

    ....Just a thought... !

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    Chukchi Salmon
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    Thanks for the historical detail and the British-American distinction, Sensuikan San ! These bring much depth to the simple strangeness of 'flammables'. :)

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    Regular Member Sensuikan San's Avatar
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    Hello Lexico !

    ‚Ç‚¤’v‚µ‚Ü‚µ‚Ä !

    Regards,

    ƒWƒ‡ƒ“

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    Landlord
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    Send it by ship, it's "cargo"

    Send it by car (truck), it's "shipment"

    A "wimp and a half" . . . is a whole person because a wimp is 2/3 of a person so add 1/3 to it and you get a whole.


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    Regular Member Sensuikan San's Avatar
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    That last one will have a few folks reaching for their calculators.....!

    ƒWƒ‡ƒ“

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    ‚ ‚¢‚µ‚Ä‚é—¢ŠGŽq Damicci's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sensuikan San
    In this regard, he was probably being a little inept ( ... but I've never met anyone who can be described as "ept" ... so...)
    ƒWƒ‡ƒ“
    Funny you mention that. I was just thinking about the root of the word inflammable considering it's suffix as stated usually denotes negative of the root word. You would think "inept" would be defined as uncapable of or lacking ept but if you look up Inept you'll find that it is the opposite of "Apt" while ept doesn't seem to be a word.


    My favorite is still. Hamburger - IT'S MADE FROM BEEF! WHERE THE [email protected]#K IS THE HAM?

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    Chukchi Salmon
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    Quote Originally Posted by Damicci
    My favorite is still. Hamburger - IT'S MADE FROM BEEF! WHERE THE [email protected]#K IS THE HAM?
    That's a good one. So one day this guy get's a strange burger made of cold ham, and asks, "Where's the beef?"
    And I thought hamstring was funny too. How about the abusive use of Bologna sausage, and the Viennese Wiener ? I always though they were funny without knowing exactly why. And the word "to punish" supposedly coming from the Carthagean Punics seems rather far fetched, don't you think ? :)

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    ŠÏŽ@‚·‚é‚Ì‚ªD‚«‚Å‚· cacawate's Avatar
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    Dr. Nick: Inflammable means flammable? What a country!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Damicci
    My favorite is still. Hamburger - IT'S MADE FROM BEEF! WHERE THE [email protected]#K IS THE HAM?
    Obviously not in Germany.

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    The Hairy Wookie Mycernius's Avatar
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    Some more:
    Found missing, alone together, original copies, genuine imitation

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    Landlord
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    Jumbo shrimp, freezer burn

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sensuikan San
    That last one will have a few folks reaching for their calculators.....!

    ƒWƒ‡ƒ“
    LOL! But what are they gonna do if they realize calculators can't do fractions?


    nonpareil. I've never seen pareils

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    Complimentary gift.

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    Landlord
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    An accurate estimate

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    Satyavrata Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Damicci
    According to dictionary they mean the same thing. But inflameable is an older term. flammable is just commonly used now. Both meaning substance the can burned or set on fire.
    That must be in the States because I would never use "flammable"
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    I jump to conclusions mad pierrot's Avatar
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    I always though it was hamburger because it came from Hamburg, Germany. Not sure it it's true or not, but I whipped this off google in a few seconds:


    According to Theodora Fitzgibbon in her book The Food of the Western World - An Encyclopedia of food from North American and Europe:
    The originated on the German Hamburg-Amerika line boats, which brought emigrants to America in the 1850s. There was at that time a hamous Hamburg beef which was salted and sometimes slightly smoked, and therefore ideal for keeping on a long sea voyage. As it was hard, it was minced and sometimes stretched with soaked breadcrumbs and chopped onion. It was popular with the Jewish emigrants, who continuted to make Hamburg steaks, as the patties were then called, with fresh meat when they settled in the U.S.
    The Origin of Hamburgers and Ketchup, by Prof. Giovanni Ballarini:
    The origin of the hamburger is not very clear, but the prevailing version is that at the end of 1800' s, European emigrants reached America on the ships of the Hamburg Lines and were served meat patties quickly cooked on the grill and placed between two pieces of bread.


    Anyways....

    My favorites:

    ATM machine.... uh, doesn't that mean Automatic Teller Machine Machine then?

    PIN number.... so, it's Personal Identification Number Number?

    Patience has its limits. Take it too far, and it's cowardice.

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    The Hairy Wookie Mycernius's Avatar
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    If the plural of goose is geese, why isn't the plural of mongoose, mongeese?

    Why is Bombay Duck called Bombay Duck, whenit is a fish dish?

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    ‚ ‚¢‚µ‚Ä‚é—¢ŠGŽq Damicci's Avatar
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    Nice discussion of hamburger lol

    "At the drop of a hat"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mycernius
    If the plural of goose is geese, why isn't the plural of mongoose, mongeese?

    Why is Bombay Duck called Bombay Duck, whenit is a fish dish?
    Because the word for fish in some Indian dialects is daka, so people mistakenly think the dish is duck, ie. Daka Bombay.

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