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  #21  
Old 22 October 2018, 02:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Don Enrico View Post
In German, a long vowel is marked by putting a silent h behind it, as in "Bahn". Unless it's marked by putting a silent e behind it, as in "Schiene" (works only for the vowel i, which can have a silent h behind it, too). Unless, that is, when it's marked by being a double vowel, as in "Boot". Unless, of course, it's not marked by any additional letter, but by the fact that there is not a double letter behind it, as in "Oper". Keep in mind, though, that short vowels can also be followed by a single letter, as in "Opfer". Additionally, if the vowel is followed by a sharp "s" sound, it is spelled "ss" after as short vowel, as in "Hass", but after a long vowel the "s" sound is spelled with the unique letter ß, as in "Spaß".
That does sound a whole lot like spelling "rules" in English: more exceptions than rules; or, rather, an attempt to deal with the fact that there is no rule by making up a rule for every instance.

English spelling is a talent -- you've got to have a certain type of visual memory for it to come at all easily. Otherwise, it's just a huge amount of rote memorization. I do have that particular sort of visual memory; which seems odd, because otherwise my visual memory is pretty bad.
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  #22  
Old 22 October 2018, 03:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Don Enrico View Post
Tell that to German elementary pupils...

In German, a long vowel is marked by putting a silent h behind it, as in "Bahn". Unless it's marked by putting a silent e behind it, as in "Schiene" (works only for the vowel i, which can have a silent h behind it, too). Unless, that is, when it's marked by being a double vowel, as in "Boot". Unless, of course, it's not marked by any additional letter, but by the fact that there is not a double letter behind it, as in "Oper". Keep in mind, though, that short vowels can also be followed by a single letter, as in "Opfer". Additionally, if the vowel is followed by a sharp "s" sound, it is spelled "ss" after as short vowel, as in "Hass", but after a long vowel the "s" sound is spelled with the unique letter ß, as in "Spaß".

But you are right, English spelling is horrible to the non native speaker.
Well at least German speakers can't get charged with man's laughter...
Manslaughter
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  #23  
Old 22 October 2018, 03:45 PM
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What was interesting to me about the article Steve linked is that it is not about spelling--spelling rates a few throw-away references--it's more about structure.

My go-to recommendation for people who want to know more about English and its history is David Crystal's The Stories of English. I like it because it does not treat English as a monolithic language that developed the same way everywhere.

Seaboe
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  #24  
Old 22 October 2018, 05:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cervus View Post
My weird language question has to deal with transportation. In American English, we use "on" or "in" to describe our relationship to different methods of transportation, but there doesn't seem to be a logical reason that I can figure out...

So, why is car the odd one out when it comes to saying "I'm on the [transportation]"? I can be on a plane, on a boat, on a train, and on a bus, but if I'm on a car, that is something totally different, and a phrasing that's never used to describe being transported by car. The only think I can think of is that all the other transportation methods are boarded, whereas we don't board a car. I've no idea if that has anything to do with it, though.

Also, luggage/cargo is loaded on the plane, on the boat, on the bus, and on the train, but in the car. However, it wouldn't sound odd to me to hear that the luggage is in the bus. I think "on" is used more often for that one though.
It may also have to do with the ability to move around the conveyance. That would explain the boat rules. If you can't move around easily (canoe, dinghy) you are in the craft. If you can move around (raft, yacht) you are on the craft.

You are in a car because you cannot easily move once seated. You are on a train, plane, or bus because you can get up and walk around. RV's are an exception to the rule (but you shouldn't be moving around while it is in motion).

Luggage gets a little complicated because it is either in an enclosed area of the craft or on the 'carrier'.
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  #25  
Old 22 October 2018, 06:14 PM
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I wonder if we say "in the car" because we used to describe passengers as being in a carriage, while the driver was on the carriage.
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  #26  
Old 23 October 2018, 02:12 PM
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What about being on a bike or motorcycle?
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  #27  
Old 23 October 2018, 03:11 PM
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There is no "in" for a bike or motorcycle. Therefore they are "on" by default.

Seaboe
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  #28  
Old 23 October 2018, 03:23 PM
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But you can be in a sidecar.
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  #29  
Old 23 October 2018, 03:36 PM
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Which takes us back to Keeper's theory. You certainly cannot get up and move around while remaining in the sidecar.

Seaboe
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  #30  
Old 23 October 2018, 05:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BamaRainbow View Post
And the old-timey biplanes? Typically, the pilots (and rare passengers) were in them, not on them.
But if you're a barnstorming era wing walker, then you're on the plane. Which actually correlates with the theory that you're on something if you can move around.
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  #31  
Old 23 October 2018, 05:48 PM
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if you're IN a canoe, you're ON the river
If you're ON your canoe, you were IN the river...


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  #32  
Old 23 October 2018, 06:22 PM
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I would have to be on something to go out on the wing of a plane in midair --
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  #33  
Old 23 October 2018, 07:09 PM
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"There's... something on the wing!"
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  #34  
Old 23 October 2018, 07:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GenYus234 View Post
"There's... something on the wing!"
"Why should I believe you? You're HITLER!"

...OK, that might be taking the chain of references a step too far.
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  #35  
Old 23 October 2018, 08:34 PM
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"That's amazing, the same thing happened to me!"
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  #36  
Old 23 October 2018, 09:13 PM
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To return to sort of the topic, the phrases:

"Undersea life" means marine creatures and plant life that has evolved for that enviroment.
"Life under the sea" means terrestrial creatures and/or plant life artificially in the oceans.

Does that jive with what most people would say? And what other phrases like that do you know?
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  #37  
Old 23 October 2018, 10:04 PM
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Do the words boogie, as in dancing, Boogie man and booger all share the same root?
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  #38  
Old 23 October 2018, 10:15 PM
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AIUI, the imaginary creature under your bed and/or in your closet* is a bogeyman. From
a bogey being a ghost/spirit. Probably similar to the use of "bogey" to designate an unknown aircraft by the military.

* In your head!
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  #39  
Old 23 October 2018, 10:28 PM
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I want to say Boogie man is from the east or west Indies, referring to locals lurking in the dark.
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  #40  
Old 23 October 2018, 11:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GenYus234 View Post
* In your head!
Damnit! I just escaped to a quiet place and now I've got an earworm!
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