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It's Linguistastic! Or Linguistalicious!
November 16, 2012 5:45 AM   Subscribe

Arika Okrent (previously here on sign language interpreters and her 352-page book about 'Invented Languages') is currently kicking ass and taking etymologies at the Mental Floss site with a flurry of listicles* on the 'invention' of today's English/American language:
The solidly informational "11 Weirdly Spelled Words—And How They Got That Way"**
The entertainingly snarky "11 Creative Suffixes That Inspire New Words"
The just plain fun "From Y’all To Youse, 8 English Ways to Make “You” Plural"
plus one non-linguistic piece of pure pedantry: "11 Movie Chess Scenes Where The Board Is Set Up Wrong"***

*a term she MUST dissect sometime
**which SHOCKINGLY does not include an explanation why the word "weird" does not comply with the "i before e" rule. Well, maybe in a future post...
*** come on, if Bergman did it "wrong", doesn't that make it right?
posted by oneswellfoop (52 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm pretty sure that setting up the chessboard wrong is some kind of stagehand in-joke, because it seems to be done so way more than half the time. Maybe confirmation bias here.
posted by thelonius at 5:48 AM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


They forgot -filter.
posted by dhartung at 5:59 AM on November 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


Metafilter: postnomicsathongatesplainingcationtainmentitudetasticliciouspocalypsegasm.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 6:08 AM on November 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


There's a mistake in the very first word, "Thought", in the first list. Neither yogh (that is, the sign which looks like ȝ) nor eth (which looks like ð) are "runic characters". Both are derived from the Roman alphabet. Only thorn (you know, the weird b + p combination of þ) is runic in origin.

(Þorn is also wickedly useful, I wish þat English still had it.)
posted by Jehan at 6:31 AM on November 16, 2012 [6 favorites]


There was a terribly cute boy in college that like to pretend he wasn't from the South. One night he corrected me when I said "Y'all want another beer?" because y'all was not proper English.

I then went on a rant about how y'all is a necessary evil since the loss of "thou" for the singluar second person pronoun. After about ten minutes of bitching about the undue influence of the French in the 16th century and the repurposing of you from being the plural to the formal and how the Quakers were largely to blame for the loss of thou, he apologized and said he would never again question my Southern dialectal quirks.

I got him and the rest of my friends beers. They used thou the rest of the night when referring to a single person, and you for the group. Then in the morning y'all reclaimed it's dominance.
posted by teleri025 at 6:49 AM on November 16, 2012 [15 favorites]


Ooch. She spelled "guerrilla" wrong in her last sentence in the weirdly spelled words article. Not good karma (unless she did it on purpose for the pedants among us?).
posted by dlugoczaj at 7:01 AM on November 16, 2012


"Y'all" beats "you guys" hands down. Score one for Dixie.
posted by caddis at 7:01 AM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Pleasantly surprised to see "all y'all" mentioned in 'Super Plurals: Sometimes a plural is simply not plural enough.'
posted by achrise at 7:04 AM on November 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


oneswellfoop: "(previously here on sign language interpreters and her 352-page book about 'Invented Languages')"

Why is the length of the book of note? Why the single quotes around and capitalization of invented languages?

(pedantry-filter)
posted by Chrysostom at 7:05 AM on November 16, 2012


Re: Chess boards. Unless you're really anal, the orientation of the board doesn't matter in the least. It certainly doesn't make any difference to the gameplay. Maybe the believably human characters in the films set up their boards the wrong way because they just don't give a flying fuck about pointless and arbitrary rules, or just don't know because there is no reason anyone would need to know that rule except to be a prick about it.

And the Blade Runner one is clearly the right way around.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:13 AM on November 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


how the Quakers were largely to blame for the loss of thou...

Huh? Conservative Quakers went on using "thou" way longer than just about anyone else in the English-speaking world.
posted by nebulawindphone at 7:15 AM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why is the length of the book of note?
I pondered hard how to point out it was not a minor publication and opted out of mentioning the "500 languages" cited therein.

Why the single quotes around and capitalization of invented languages?
A semi-direct but partial reference to the book's title, although most authorities would insist double-quotes would be more appropriate, it's just one of my personal writing quirks that have annoyed the editors of my few published articles. But I'm a loner, Chrysostom, a rebel.

And I overthought enough beans in making this post to feed a post-apocalyptic village.
posted by oneswellfoop at 7:16 AM on November 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


Huh? Conservative Quakers went on using "thou" way longer than just about anyone else in the English-speaking world.

Which probably made doing so terminally uncool for non-conservative-Quakers.
posted by acb at 7:16 AM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think you mean she did it for the pendants amongst us.
posted by iamkimiam at 7:18 AM on November 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


comfortable. comfturble. comfortable. comfturble.
posted by Jpfed at 7:31 AM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


You're all right, oneswellfoop.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:33 AM on November 16, 2012


"From Y’all To Youse, 8 English Ways to Make “You” Plural"

I'd just like to point out that the Super-Plural, "all y'all" is reserved for special occasions only (that most often involve drinking) and is usually found in close proximity to a swear word.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 7:48 AM on November 16, 2012 [8 favorites]


Unless you're really anal, the orientation of the board doesn't matter in the least. It certainly doesn't make any difference to the gameplay

The positions of your king and queen are swapped. It's confusing.
posted by kenko at 7:48 AM on November 16, 2012


Re: Chess boards. Unless you're really anal, the orientation of the board doesn't matter in the least.

Queen goes on its color, so if the board is oriented the wrong way the king and queen will be reversed, which will certainly affect game play. It's true that if you don't put the queen on its color and just set up the pieces the correct way the game play won't be affected, but given that Chess is one of the most ancient games we have, probably the most studied game ever, and a game steeped in tradition, I hardly think respecting the proper set-up of the board is being a prick about it.

I believe official tournament rules say if the board is oriented incorrectly and nobody points it out, the game can still count as official. If someone points it out, the clocks are stopped and the pieces moved to a correctly-oriented board.
posted by bondcliff at 7:50 AM on November 16, 2012


Finally! The word I have been looking for is "ye". Thank god! We need to work together to bring this back into common usage. Saying "you guys" all the time is super-annoying.
posted by windykites at 7:50 AM on November 16, 2012


It's only an issue if you are the kind of person that memorizes moves rather than playing the game a play at a time.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 7:51 AM on November 16, 2012


I believe official tournament rules say if the board is oriented incorrectly and nobody points it out, the game can still count as official. If someone points it out, the clocks are stopped and the pieces moved to a correctly-oriented board.

And in official tennis rules, the ball must be white or yellow. Doesn't mean anyone playing recreationally with a pink ball is some sort of philistine or blasphemer.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:53 AM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Queen goes on its color, so if the board is oriented the wrong way the king and queen will be reversed

White on the right with queen on its color is one convention for establishing that order of pieces, but the mere fact of not having white on the right does not prevent you from having the king and queen in the "right" place; it just means the queen would have to be placed on the other color.

which will certainly affect game play.

All pieces in chess have moves with horizontal symmetry. The only difference between the "correct" and "incorrect" initial setups is a horizontal reflection. Any otherwise-legal game played on a board set up with black on the right can be mapped 1:1 with a legal game played on a regular board. What is not horizontally symmetric is the brains of the players, who have built up expertise assuming a particular king/queen position.

That doesn't stop me from twitching when I see it set up wrong though
posted by Jpfed at 8:01 AM on November 16, 2012


Finally! The word I have been looking for is "ye". Thank god! We need to work together to bring this back into common usage. Saying "you guys" all the time is super-annoying.
Not really, it's just an obsolete form of "you". Ye is to the I as you is to the me. If you ken...
posted by Jehan at 8:05 AM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


And in official tennis rules, the ball must be white or yellow. Doesn't mean anyone playing recreationally with a pink ball is some sort of philistine or blasphemer.

Right, but if you saw a movie with a tennis tournament in it, and the ball in the movie was pink, you'd probably find it distractingly unrealistic. I know I would, and I don't even play tennis.
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:07 AM on November 16, 2012


I guess what I'm saying is, I see the Okrent article as making a descriptive point rather than a prescriptive one.

Not "chess should be played this way, and playing it otherwise is blasphemous and wrong" but rather "it turns out that chess is played this way — and so a movie that shows it played otherwise is sort of unrealistic."
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:13 AM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Exactly. Chess in TV and films is typically used to signify "look this character is intelligent and deep", so they look particularly foolish when they get this wrong.
posted by thelonius at 8:17 AM on November 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


"it turns out that chess is played this way — and so a movie that shows it played otherwise is sort of unrealistic."

And I guess what I'm saying is that chess is also very, very often played "wrong" in informal settings by people who aren't bothered, so unless it's a tournament scene in Searching For Bobby Fischer or something, depicting it as such is not "unrealistic" in the slightest.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:23 AM on November 16, 2012


In Brum they use 'y'a'right?' as 'how are you?'.
posted by srboisvert at 8:24 AM on November 16, 2012


Finally! The word I have been looking for is "ye".

Here you can hear the Rubberbandits use it.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:27 AM on November 16, 2012


In Brum they use 'y'a'right?' as 'how are you?'.

Interesting, in the Southeastern US, that would be said upon ariving at the scene of an accident.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 8:32 AM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm just relieved that the chess boards are correct here. (Although the giant chessboard with the dancers... depends on whether it's supposed to be Player's POV or not...)
posted by oneswellfoop at 8:45 AM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


A super plural as she put it, is used when the entire group is being referenced, as opposed to a subset of it.
posted by empath at 8:47 AM on November 16, 2012


It could be the entirity of a subset of a group, say, just the boys snickering when Lurlene spilled Boone's Farm on her cutoffs.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 8:57 AM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not really, it's just an obsolete form of "you".

Unless it's the archaic form of the, as in þe.
posted by elizardbits at 9:12 AM on November 16, 2012


The only difference between the "correct" and "incorrect" initial setups is a horizontal reflection.

And that wouldn't matter if the board had nine rows and columns and the king were flanked by two queens.
posted by kenko at 9:15 AM on November 16, 2012


And that wouldn't matter if the board had nine rows and columns and the king were flanked by two queens.

And it matters in actual chess how? Seriously, the game trees of chess and that of horizontally-reflected chess are isomorphic.
posted by Jpfed at 9:24 AM on November 16, 2012


And it matters in actual chess how? Seriously, the game trees of chess and that of horizontally-reflected chess are isomorphic.

It is like the celebrated brown M&Ms rider: the band does not care about brown M&Ms per se, but it is easy to verify and if this small item cannot be addressed properly, it may be a harbinger of later contractual unzealousness.

If I were to play someone on a board turned ninety degrees out of true, I would be wondering if this is someone I will have to argue with later in the game about how castling works, or en passant captures, or stalemate. In other words: is this someone who know how to play chess or not?
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:31 AM on November 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


All y'all makes perfect sense to me. To put it in northern terms: All of you guys.
posted by Gordafarin at 10:49 AM on November 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


If you play chess seriously, you learn about complexes of colored squares and so on, and you become well-acquainted with the terrain - which squares are what color, how various possible things connect them. Sure, you COULD play with all of these things reversed (which is what you do if you set up with a dark square in the right hand corner) but it would be very disorienting.
posted by thelonius at 11:16 AM on November 16, 2012


What's the deal with Rhode Island in that "Yinz/You Guys/Y'all" chart? I would've thought that was prime "youse" territory, which they don't even show on the map.
posted by Challahtronix at 11:35 AM on November 16, 2012


the quidnunc kid: "Metafilter: postnomicsathongatesplainingcationtainmentitudetasticliciouspocalypsegasm."

-filter.

(BTW, that quote broke the preview box.)
posted by Samizdata at 1:43 PM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


oneswellfoop: "Why is the length of the book of note?
I pondered hard how to point out it was not a minor publication and opted out of mentioning the "500 languages" cited therein.

Why the single quotes around and capitalization of invented languages?
A semi-direct but partial reference to the book's title, although most authorities would insist double-quotes would be more appropriate, it's just one of my personal writing quirks that have annoyed the editors of my few published articles. But I'm a loner, Chrysostom, a rebel.

And I overthought enough beans in making this post to feed a post-apocalyptic village.
"

Won't be so much a village should someone light a match.
posted by Samizdata at 1:45 PM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


And, FWIW, I am a firm proponent in the "y'all" camp.
posted by Samizdata at 1:47 PM on November 16, 2012


postnomicsathongatesplainingcationtainmentitudetasticliciouspocalypsegasm

OLL RAIGTH
posted by Daily Alice at 2:18 PM on November 16, 2012 [6 favorites]


And I overthought enough beans in making this post to feed a post-apocalyptic village."

Won't be so much a village should someone light a match.


Samizdata, am I the only one who overthinks green beans when I overthink beans?
(Think about it)
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:51 PM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


They call them Rules, not Suggestions.

One of my neighbors has a rule that when two pawns are in the proper (diagonal) position, the guy who moves next has to take the other pawn, like in checkers. "Can't refuse combat," he says. I tried to explain en passant to him, but he just looked at me as if I had a third ear growing out of my forehead. When I castled he nearly came unglued, on account of how, you know, I moved two pieces in the same move. When I tried to explain the rules of castling he started flapping his arms and making bubbling noises. Then I said, no, this is a goddam rook, you fucking moron. I just explained to you that castling is a move, not a piece.

He also has this annoying habit of picking up a piece and tapping it on his upper lip while he's thinking about where to move it. Touch move. Touch move. I tried to explain simple conventions to him, but no, picky picky is the only thing he seems to be able to say.

By then I was down the board with two pawns, and moving a pawn to C-8 and I said "Queen," and he said "What?," and I said, "I'm promoting to a Queen," and he said, get the fuck out of here--you've already got a fucking queen on the board and I said yeah and I'm going to have another one on my next move and he said you can't just make this shit up as you go along and I said where'd you learn to play chess you nimrod, from your mother, and he said yeah what about it, then...

You can't deal with people like this. You just have to tap them on their foreheads with the heel of your shoe.

For pete's sake.
posted by mule98J at 3:44 PM on November 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


"Y'all" beats "you guys" hands down. Score one for Dixie.

Yinz beats 'em all. Score two fer Pittsburgh!

Scuse me while I go warsh my hands.
Yinz redd up in hair, and make shore you outten the lights 'fore you leave.

B-byh.
posted by BlueHorse at 6:37 PM on November 16, 2012


BlueHorse: ""Y'all" beats "you guys" hands down. Score one for Dixie.

Yinz beats 'em all. Score two fer Pittsburgh!

Scuse me while I go warsh my hands.
Yinz redd up in hair, and make shore you outten the lights 'fore you leave.

B-byh.
"

Nope. Y'all ain't right. Just t'aint right atall.
posted by Samizdata at 8:33 PM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Postnomicsathongatesplainingcationtainmentitudetasticliciouspocalypsegasmfilter.
posted by mynameisluka at 10:03 PM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


That's aa--tall, if you please.

Aa as in hat, tall as in tall. Then spit on the ground.

But'chur right. It ain't. It jist ain't.
posted by mule98J at 7:19 AM on November 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


How the Internet Helps Deaf Science Students Create New Signs
posted by homunculus at 4:20 PM on December 4, 2012


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