I have written before about: the major cases in Finnish and Hungarian. https://languagemiscellany.com/2022/03/how-many-cases-are-there-in-hungarian-and-finnishthe local / spatial cases in those languages https://languagemiscellany.com/2022/05/how-many-cases-are-there-in-hungarian-and-finnish-2 In this post, I cover the minor cases in those languages. Overview Both Finnish and Hungarian have minor cases expressing: accompaniment (comitative)—though in Hungarian, the case expressing accompaniment is more often the instrumental case…… Continue reading How many cases are there in Hungarian and Finnish (3)?
Month: August 2022
Statement of the bleedin’ obvious?
Villa Jovis, Capri, 2012
Keeping Welsh place names
An English commercial property lawyer from Manchester has drafted a set of legal covenants that property vendors can insert in property sale contracts to prevent buyers replacing the Welsh name of the house or place. He did this after becoming incensed about the name of farmland called Banc Cornicyll (‘ridge for lapwing or for plover’).…… Continue reading Keeping Welsh place names
Meaning of Liff
In their 1983 book, The meaning of Liff, Douglas Adams and John Lloyd created new words for ‘common experiences, feelings, situations and even objects for which no words exist’. All the words are place names: ‘spare words which spend their time doing nothing but loafing around on signposts pointing at places’. Here are 5 examples:…… Continue reading Meaning of Liff
I recently came across a word that was new to me: contronym. A contronym is a word that is its own opposite. An often-given example is sanction. Sanctioning an action can mean either penalising it or permitting it. Some other examples are: WordOne meaningAnother meaningcleave clingsplitclipattachcut offdustremove dustadd a layer of dustapologystatement of regret for an…… Continue reading Contronyms
When house style gives a silly answer
An organisation’s house editorial conventions are useful because: they make documents from that organisation look like documents from a single place; andallow writers to concentrate on what is important without worrying about trivial editorial details. It is important, though, not to let house editorial conventions get in the way. I once worked on an accounting…… Continue reading When house style gives a silly answer
What is this, like, based on?
In the last couple of years I’ve started hearing the phrase “based off of” instead of the seemingly more logical “based on”. Perhaps this upstart conveys greater dynamism, like some kind of springboard. (I’ve only heard it from Americans.) I tried searching Google Ngram to see how long it has been around but Ngram didn’t…… Continue reading What is this, like, based on?
Main Street or High Street?
What do you call the principal shopping street in a town? I’ve always thought of the High Street as distinctively British but Main Street as distinctively American. There are, though, some Main Streets in parts of England. I recently came across some in the north of Nottinghamshire, for example in the villages or hamlets of…… Continue reading Main Street or High Street?
A language with only 3 verbs?
Recent press reports talked about a language that has only 3 verbs. Researchers claim that this language (Jingulu) may form a basis for creating a language that leads to better communication between humans and artificial intelligence systems. The basis for these reports is a paper in the journal Frontiers in Physics: JSwarm: A Jingulu-Inspired Human-AI-Teaming…… Continue reading A language with only 3 verbs?
It’s just semantics …
When two people are arguing, it’s quite common to hear one of them say ‘that’s just semantics’. I find that expression slightly curious. Speakers tend to mean ‘you’re arguing about words, not about substance’. It seems the word semantics has acquired a folk meaning ‘sterile, pointless and pedantic, relating to words, not to the real…… Continue reading It’s just semantics …