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What OK is OK?

Zom

I would be interested in opinions about OK. Should it be OK, ok, O.K., o.k., okay, och aye, or something else completely? Is there even a 'correct' spelling?

Ernest Bywater

@Zom

Is there even a 'correct' spelling?


According to wikipedia:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OK

"OK" (also spelled "okay", "ok", or "O.K.") is a word denoting approval, ...

I always use OK, simply because it gives uniformity regardless of where used and is often used to start a sentence and I think something like: Pete said, "Ok, that went ok, now let's get the next one." just looks bad while: "OK, that went OK, now let's get the next one." looks better for being uniform.

Replies:   Zom  TeNderLoin
Zom

@Ernest Bywater

"OK" (also spelled "okay", "ok", or "O.K.") is a word denoting approval, ...

I am a bit suspecting of the Wikipedia entry, mainly because both Oxford and Webster both give only 'OK' and 'okay'.

This makes sense to me as they are the only phonetically consistent words. The 'ok' would be pronounced 'ock' and the 'O.K.', by its structure, would be an acronym, and its not clear what the O and the K would be the initials of.

I agree with your usage of 'OK' capitalised all the time, but 'okay' would follow the normal capitalisation rules.

I tend to correct all variants other than 'OK' and 'okay'. I prefer 'okay' though because it is closer to what I believe (hope) is the original source of the word :-)

ustourist

@Zom

Like you I believe that OK came from Och Aye, particularly in view of how it is pronounced, though I note the dictionaries give a different (and much later) derivation but qualify it with 'presumably', 'possibly', or some similar note of doubt.
'Wikipedia is dubious on so many things that I think it is losing credibility rapidly.

sejintenej

I would use OK.
There is an old story of questionable rectitude of the early US President who was not the brightest cent inthe purse; he would alledgedly sign bills as "orl korect" hence o.k

Ernest Bywater

@Zom

The 'ok' would be pronounced 'ock' and the 'O.K.', by its structure, would be an acronym, and its not clear what the O and the K would be the initials of.


I got out my old door-stopper dictionary and it has OK or okay, and has another entry that O.K. is short for Old Kinderhook a New York town where Martin Van Buren comes from and was often used as an abbreviation for action by a Democratic political club called the O.K. Club. It doesn't make any connection between the two entries at all. - thus, I guess, O.K. is ruled out.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

A dead tree dictionary? Luddite! :)

Switch Blayde

@Zom

I assume you're talking about how to spell it in fiction.

I always spell it out as "okay."

The only abbreviation I can think of that's acceptable in fiction is Mr., Dr., etc. (not etc btw) when preceding a name, as in Mr. Smith (otherwise it would be spelled out as "mister" as in "Hey, mister, what's up?"

Replies:   Zom  Crumbly Writer
awnlee jawking

@Zom


its not clear what the O and the K would be the initials of


One of my childhood encyclopaedias asserted that, when signing treaties with those evil white invaders, a Native American chief used his initials because he was unable to write his full name. If I still had the encyclopaedia I'd be able to supply a name, and I'm more than a little surprised that it isn't listed in Wikipedia's list of possible etymologies.

At school, the teachers insisted the correct form was O.K., also consistent with the initials theory.

When writing I normally use 'okay', but when proofreading/editing I would certainly allow 'OK' or 'O.K.'.

AJ

Replies:   Zom
Zom

@Switch Blayde

I assume you're talking about how to spell it in fiction

I hadn't intended to restrict the discussion to fiction, but I can see how other forms might be acceptable when discussing 'OK'.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@Zom

Gunfight at the Okay Corral? :)

AJ

Replies:   Zom
Zom

@awnlee jawking


At school, the teachers insisted the correct form was O.K.,

I wonder what reference the teachers were using to assert that, given the dictionaries don't agree. They don't even give 'O.K.' as a redundant form. But then maybe they did back when you were a stripling :-)

Zom
Updated:

@awnlee jawking


Gunfight at the Okay Corral? :)


O.K. Corral is correct. It was the Old Kindersley Corral, not the Acceptable Corral :-)

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Switch Blayde

@Zom

At school, the teachers insisted the correct form was O.K.,

I wonder what reference the teachers were using to assert that


I wonder if it's because OK is the abbreviation for Oklahoma.

Like LA = Louisiana
but L.A. = Los Angeles

Replies:   Capt Zapp
Capt Zapp

@Switch Blayde

wonder if it's because OK is the abbreviation for Oklahoma.


Back before they shortened all the state abbreviations to two letters, Oklahoma was abbreviated Okla.

awnlee jawking

@Zom


It was the Old Kindersley Corral


Thank you. I scoured Wikipedia but I couldn't find the full name anywhere.

AJ

Replies:   Zom
awnlee jawking

@Zom

I'm not sure it really matters any more because it's obvious the true origin is lost or uncertain. Provided readers can understand the meaning, it's okey dokey with me. :)

AJ

Replies:   Zom
Zom

@awnlee jawking

couldn't find the full name anywhere

You are welcome. Interestingly, it should really have been called 'The Gunfight Somewhere Near the O.K. Corral' because the actual historical gunfight happened on the other side of the block, not even within sight of the O.K. Corral.

Replies:   Switch Blayde  tppm
Zom

@awnlee jawking

I'm not sure it really matters any more because it's obvious the true origin is lost or uncertain.

Yeah, I started there too, but where would we be if we didn't care about the spelling of any words whose origin we weren't certain of? But wait - are we there yet?

Replies:   awnlee_jawking
Switch Blayde

@Zom

because the actual historical gunfight happened on the other side of the block


Have you ever seen it? I was there. It's a small alley and they have statues where each person was. They were so close together.

Replies:   Zom
Zom
Updated:

@Switch Blayde


Have you ever seen it?


No, sadly, I have not. It's unclear to me why it is such a big deal though. It only lasted a few seconds and not much damage was done. Perhaps it was the characters involved, and the need for Hollywood to build it up. Not sure.

But it pales against Ned Kelly's Last Stand in 1880, which involved nearly a dozen combatants, one wearing armour, left three dead and a building burned down, and lasted for more than 2 hours.

There have been three movies, but none of them were blockbusters :-)

Switch Blayde

@Zom

No, sadly, I have not. It's unclear to me why it is such a big deal though.


Like a good novel, it's probably what led up to it. And the characters -- Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday.

Here's a picture:
http://theredish.com/imgs/showimg?v=index&img=http://surroundedbyimbeciles.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/arizona-2013-008.jpg&org=https://surroundedbyimbeciles.wordpress.com/tag/gunfight-at-the-ok-corral/&ti=Arizona%202013%20008&layout=1&src=Blueish%20||%204896%20x%203672%20||%20http://theredish.com/img/arizona%20ok%20corral

I thought the alley was next to the O.K. Coral, not across the street from it. But I don't remember.

Replies:   madnige  Ernest Bywater
awnlee_jawking

@Zom


where would we be if we didn't care about the spelling


Well I could say, "Here! Here!" or I could say, "I could care less," but either might disturb people from their chaise lounges. :)

AJ

madnige

@Switch Blayde

I thought the alley was next to the O.K. Coral, not across the street from it.


It was on the next street up, the other side of the block from the O.K.Coral and a few lots along from the rear entrance. Like much of Holywood's fare, veracity is in short supply.

History.net
Wikipedia has a map.

Replies:   Capt Zapp
Capt Zapp

@madnige

the other side of the block from the O.K.Coral and a few lots along from the rear entrance.


Maybe the O.K. Corral was the most recognizable landmark at the time.

Unless of course it involved the rays and the sharks.

tppm

@Zom

You are welcome. Interestingly, it should really have been called 'The Gunfight Somewhere Near the O.K. Corral' because the actual historical gunfight happened on the other side of the block, not even within sight of the O.K. Corral.


But, "The Shootout in Tombstone" would hardly have been unique.

tppm

@Zom

It's such a big deal because an old Wyatt Earp had the ear of an early Hollywood producer and pushed his story very effectively.

Ernest Bywater

@Zom

It's unclear to me why it is such a big deal though.


It was the conflicting politics, the corruption, and having so many of the law enforcement involved and killed it got widespread attention in the region at the time.

Ernest Bywater

@Switch Blayde

I thought the alley was next to the O.K. Coral, not across the street from it. But I don't remember.


The main part of the OK Corral was on the other side of the block off the next street, but it had an area that stretched through the whole block. The shooting confrontation took place a couple of doors down from the back entrance of the OK Corral.

Replies:   Zom
Zom

@Ernest Bywater

OK Corral

I rest my case ...

Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

I assume you're talking about how to spell it in fiction.

I always spell it out as "okay."

I've always spelled it "OK" for consistency purposes, as well. "Okay" just looks a little too folksy, whereas everyone who sees "OK" knows what you're referring to.

I've seen the "Old Tinderhook" connection to OK, but I don't see it as an abbreviation, regardless of how it originated. It's been used for so long, it's its own word now.

Replies:   Zom
Zom
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


It's been used for so long, it's its own word now


Not really all that long. It is a relative baby in the world of words.

As OK/okay it's only been around since the middle of the 19th century in the US, and later in other parts. It does not appear in the Blue-backed Speller, which dates it to later, and probably explains why there is no standard spelling in the US.

Of course if you subscribe to the origin that I do then it's been around with the exact same meaning, pronounced the same, but spelt a bit differently since the 15th century.

Replies:   Zen Master
Zen Master

@Zom

The OED says "origin uncertain", but "Och Aye" is old Scottish for "Oh, Yes" and the Scots have been responding to instructions with that phrase for a very long time. Since that ethnic/linguistic group is accepted as one of the ingredients in modern English, I don't see any confusion for the meaning "Yes, sure, no problem, whatever you want boss". The other meaning of "acceptable" might be up for discussion, though. Either way, North America was settled by illiterate people, and much of our early writing has words that they spelled the way they sounded. It wasn't until that damned Yankee Webster got some rich trading houses to pay to distribute his propaganda that the rest of the US learned how they were "supposed" to spell their words. Okay? :)

Replies:   Dominions Son  Zom
Dominions Son

@Zen Master

Either way, North America was settled by illiterate people, and much of our early writing has words that they spelled the way they sounded.

This statement is so much nonsense. As a matter of definition, illiterate people can't write at all.

That said, at the time there was a lot of variation in spelling even by people who were supposedly well educated. Look at some of the hand written documents by Thomas Jefferson of Benjamin Franklin. Not typewritten transcriptions but photographic reproductions of the original hand written documents.

Replies:   ustourist
ustourist

@Dominions Son

This statement is so much nonsense. As a matter of definition, illiterate people can't write at all.

The OED defines illiterate as unable to read OR write, not read AND write, so the statement is valid. The two do not necessarily coexist.

Selecting two persons from the country that has been mentioned as the scene of the illiteracy, then stating they were supposedly well educated (presumably by American standards?), is not exactly using a high standard of proof.

Dominions Son
Updated:

@ustourist


were supposedly well educated


Are you seriously going to suggest that Thomas Jefferson, one of the leading authors of the US constitution and a founder of multiple universities or Benjamin Franklin, a printer, inventor, and one of our first diplomats as well as a holder of multiple honorary doctorates from English universities including Oxford were illiterate or in some way not well educated even by European standards of the time?

Dominions Son

@ustourist

The OED defines illiterate as unable to read OR write, not read AND write, so the statement is valid. The two do not necessarily coexist.


No, the statement is not valid it may be plausible that a person could know how to read without knowing how to write, but the reverse is highly implausible.

Replies:   ustourist
ustourist

@Dominions Son

No, the statement is not valid it may be plausible that a person could know how to read without knowing how to write

Thank you for supporting my point. They do not necessarily coexist.
As far as the point regarding Jefferson and Franklin. I did not 'suggest' that. I merely pointed out that using examples from the country concerned was not a high standard of proof.
The ability to read without comprehending the words as written is a slight advance over illiteracy, but is still not what would be considered 'educated' in England.

richardshagrin

@ustourist

I suggest you stop defending the exceptionally difficult to defend theory that English subjects were more literate that ones in the Americas. Until about 1776 give or take a year or so and a War that brought in other European Powers, the Gentlemen under discussion were as "English" as any Scott, person born in Ireland, or any other part of the British Empire, where the sun never set. Several of the Georges were essentially Hanoverian, brought over to be a Protestant ruler. There may have been lots of illiterate hill people (West, by god, Virginia) but the wealthy Americans certainly were as literate as any man subject to the British Crown. Maybe more so than the wearer of that crown.

Dominions Son

@ustourist

Thank you for supporting my point. They do not necessarily coexist.


No, I am not supporting you point. The ability to read can exist without the ability to write, the reverse is not true, the ability to write can not exist without the ability to read, there for an illiterate person by definition can not write so illiteracy can not be responsible for the variances in spellings in the colonies.

s far as the point regarding Jefferson and Franklin. I did not 'suggest' that. I merely pointed out that using examples from the country concerned was not a high standard of proof.

That depends on proof of what, I was not using them as proof that illiteracy was not rampant in the colonies, it was rampant among the English underclasses as well at that time.

My point was that the writings of those two well educated men display the same lack of standardized spellings as anything else in the colonies. In point of fact, there are documents from Franklin where he spell the same word several different ways within that single document.

I suggest that the lack of standardized spellings in the colonies and early US was a deliberate revolution against "the King's English as much as the revolutionary war was a revolution against the English government.

Zom

@Zen Master

damned Yankee Webster

From experience, I know you can't invoke Noah, or poor US literacy, here without vociferous reactions.

It was indeed 'och aye' I was referring to (see the initial post) and it fits far better, especially if you hear a Scot say it, than any of the myriad other derivative explanations supporting a purely American source.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Ernest Bywater
Updated:

A couple of points to keep in mind with regards where this discussion is seeming to split to.

1. From what is known about where OK to mean something is All Right it seems to have originated in a part of the USA where a lot of Scots settled and set up house. This is a strong support for it to be a simplified version of och aye but no one knows for sure now. Also, many of the Scots immigrants were not well schooled either.

2. From what is recorded about the USA prior to the late 1800s we do know that the richer people were well schooled but there was very little (often no) schooling offered outside of the larger town area apart from what mothers taught their own kids. Also, much of what formal schooling was available in the rural areas tended to cut out at what is now called 6th grade and often people never made it that far because they were needed to help feed the family and left school early. The same is true of a most of the new countries and areas settled during the 16th to 18th centuries, thus there was a high level of illiteracy amongst the bulk of the populations because only the upper middle class and above got decent schooling - as a general rule, there were a few exceptions.

Thus, while the ones in positions of power were usually well schooled, the bulk of the population weren't if they were born or grew up in the US. There were also a lot who could read, having been taught to read from the Bible etc, but never taught to write.

Edit to add: For a long time the official test for literacy was the ability to read from a book, and the ability to write wasn't tested because of the cost of the materials involved to conduct the test.

It's because of this some of the older reports on literacy can't be fully trusted. Also, in many communities they assessed the community's literacy solely on the number of employed adult males, females and unemployed weren't counted.

The lack of writing skills is the reason census takers went around writing people's written replies into the records for them. The process also ensured the writing in a book was the same hand and the person doing the census knew what had and hadn't been done. But when you look at a lot of the old marriage records you'll be surprised how many make a mark or the signature is little more than a scratch. Also, a lot of older marriage records were not signed or marked by anyone other than the minister who did the service.

Dominions Son
Updated:

@Zom


or poor US literacy


The literacy rate in England proper wasn't all that high at the time.

It was only 47% in 1696 and only reached 62% in 1800

http://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/literacy-rates

And in the colonies:


"The exercise is bound to be tentative, as it uses a biased sample and an ambiguous measure"-but he made the case that, among white New England men, about 60 percent of the population was literate between 1650 and 1670, a figure that rose to 85 percent between 1758 and 1762, and to 90 percent between 1787 and 1795. In cities such as Boston, the rate had come close to 100 percent by century's end.


http://www.history.org/foundation/journal/winter11/literacy.cfm

So a case can be made that literacy was higher in the colonies than in England proper.

If you want to make a case that literacy was worse in the American colonies or early US than in England, you need to cite sources rather than just asserting it with no basis

Replies:   Grant  Zom
Grant

@Dominions Son

If you want to make a case that literacy was worse in the American colonies or early US than in England, you need to cite sources rather than just asserting it with no basis

I think you're forgetting that this is the internet.

Zom
Updated:

@Dominions Son


white New England men


Does the article say what percentage of the population of what became the US was comprised of "white New England men" at those times?


If you want to make a case


Not me. I was just saying you could not mention it here without vociferous reactions ...

Replies:   Dominions Son
sejintenej

You have to accept that the first immigrants were the poor, often with farming and other outdood skills but I wonder how many of them could read and writ=e fluently

Replies:   richardshagrin
richardshagrin
Updated:

@sejintenej

Jamestown, 1607 had a high percentage of "gentlemen" who had no idea about farming which is why so much of the colony starved to death.

The Pilgrims off the Mayflower were religious dissenters (from Church of England) and mostly could read the Bible. They didn't do all that well farming either, despite being shown how by native Americans who put a fish in with the seed as a form of fertilizer. There were a few soldiers (Miles Standish comes to mind) who did some hunting but any skills in either the farming or outdoor area came from experience gained in North America. The Pilgrims came to Massachusetts from the Netherlands where they were refugees from England. The Jamestown boys were looking to get rich, not farm or do other ungentlemanly deeds like making a living. Neither colony could be considered an unqualified success. Weather and soil were more favorable in Virginia, but until they developed Tobacco and demand for it in the home country, there wasn't much economic reason to be here. Settlers in the West Indies using slaves to grow sugarcane and converting the result to rum did much better financially.

Dominions Son

@Zom

Not me. I was just saying you could not mention it here without vociferous reactions ...


Because it is a baseless allegation that illiteracy was any worse among American settlers of any given economic class than it was among those with similar economic standing in Europe and / or England. It is true that literacy rates were poor by modern standards, but they just as bad everywhere else in the world at the time.

Replies:   Zom  sejintenej
Zom

@Dominions Son

Because it is a baseless allegation

Perhaps I should take my own advice and leave the wasp nest alone, but it's really hard to do.

Trust me when I tell you that the view of the US from the outside is VERY different to the view from the inside.

Replies:   ustourist  Dominions Son
ustourist

@Zom

leave the wasp nest alone

A wasps nest would have hundreds rushing to the defence rather than just one. I think ostrich is a more suitable metaphor.

Replies:   Zom
Dominions Son
Updated:

@Zom


Trust me when I tell you that the view of the US from the outside is VERY different to the view from the inside.


That doesn't make the outsider right about everything, or even anything in terms of their views of the US.

Besides, the British and / or Europeans thinking that the American colonies or early US were more literate more likely stems from ignorance of their own history. They don't understand that back then even in their own countries it was unusual for people outside either being part of the church hierarchy or upper class to be literate.

Replies:   sejintenej
Zom

@ustourist

I think ostrich is a more suitable metaphor

Point taken. I should listen to my own advice more often ...

sejintenej

@Dominions Son

It is true that literacy rates were poor by modern standards, but they just as bad everywhere else in the world at the time

I think that that is the point I was trying to make. Sometimes I live within walking distance of a town whence a shipload went to North America so I can only judge from what I see in historical records

sejintenej
Updated:

@Dominions Son


Trust me when I tell you that the view of the US from the outside is VERY different to the view from the inside.

That doesn't make the outsider right about everything, or even anything in terms of their views of the US.


But at least we don't have a form of nationalism engrained in us from the time we first go to school. (OH, and I heard that from an American). We can look at the US position relatively unbiased OK so the papers print what they want

You also wrote


They don't understand that back then even in their own countries it was unusual for people outside either being part of the church hierarchy or upper class to be literate.


Certainly many of us do. (Our equivalent of hillbillies may not but they have difficulty choosing between Adam's Ale and Water)

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@sejintenej

We can look at the US position relatively unbiased OK so the papers print what they want


Bull. There is plenty of bias resulting from geo-political issues.

richardshagrin

@Dominions Son

I am not sure I know what a geo-political issue is.

Bias seems to me to be a result of differences between groups of people based on race, ethnic differences, religion, envy of wealth or other desirable characteristics (height, IQ score, athletic ability, long life, breast or penis size), "patriotism" for own country or region (The South will rise again). I may have left some differences out, in High School, freshmen are discriminated against by people in higher grades. You can't play on our athletic teams or go to certain dances (Proms just for Seniors). Or date upper classmen. Actually underclass women can sometimes date upper classmen, its older women prefer not to be seen with younger men. Maybe that isn't bias? But avoiding members of a group that you do not belong to looks kinda/sorta like it to me.

sejintenej

@Dominions Son

We can look at the US position relatively unbiased OK so the papers print what they want

Bull. There is plenty of bias resulting from geo-political issues.


Sure like the Texas Educational Board voting to drop any education about the founding fathers of the US and substitute American astronauts.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son
Updated:

@sejintenej

This is exactly the kind of nonsense I am talking about, No, the Texas Board of Education (which admittedly does plenty of stupid things) did not do anything like that.

This is the closest thing I could find


Cynthia Dunbar, a lawyer from Richmond who is a strict constitutionalist and thinks the nation was founded on Christian beliefs, managed to cut Thomas Jefferson from a list of figures whose writings inspired revolutions in the late 18th century and 19th century, replacing him with St. Thomas Aquinas, John Calvin and William Blackstone. (Jefferson is not well liked among conservatives on the board because he coined the term "separation between church and state.")


Only one of the Founding Fathers was taken out and even then, in only one very limited context, he was not completely removed from the history curriculum.

Oh, and there are no American astronauts in the list of replacement names

Crumbly Writer
Updated:

I had to give up reading this idiotic thread over this endless discussion over how 'illiterate' the most recognized American authors are because they didn't spell words the same way as people on another continent choose to spell those same words 300 years later!

In early America, only the wealthy and well-educated could either read or write. In fact, the percentage of those who wrote was higher then than now, since there were so few of them. There were few schools, and most of our more famous authors were taught in merry old England.

However, the Americans turned that around, by being the first country in the entire WORLD to arrange for the mandatory education of everyone in the country. When they did that, they opened the floodgate on new voices, and as a result, the language changed at a much more rapid pace than in countries where only the upper class were schooled and not being understood by the 'common man' was a mark of status.

If you don't like how Americans spell words, then by all means, don't use American spelling. But, if you write for an American audience, then you'd best adapt your stories to your market/settings, otherwise your foppish word usages will be rejected just as you reject ours!

Replies:   richardshagrin  Zom
richardshagrin

@Crumbly Writer

Lets not go overboard on how great our founding fathers were to provide education for everyone. Mandatory education was for children, and often allowed dropping out a what seems to us a fairly early age. There were child workers in factories working 10 and 12 hour days. Slaves not only did not get "free" education, there were laws against teaching them to read, at least in the south. One of the big compromises that got agreement on the Constitution was that slaves counted as three fifths of a person for determining the population of states, for representation in the House of Representatives. Of course slaves could not vote, the North didn't want to count them at all, the south wanted all its population to count, even though much of it was slaves.

Some children were too far from schools, or their parents wanted them to work on the farm or ranch. Students get expelled for misbehavior and lose their chance at education even today. I think there are lots of people who would think our education system is far from perfect.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Zom

@Crumbly Writer

foppish

Foppish? Really? I'm sorry I started this thread now. I certainly wont be starting another. CW has managed to turn it into a fight. Foppish? Abuse is the refuge of those who have run out of ideas.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Zom

CW has managed to turn it into a fight. Foppish? Abuse is the refuge of those who have run out of ideas.


As if calling Americans illiterate isn't abuse.

Replies:   Zom
Zom

@Dominions Son

As if calling Americans illiterate isn't abuse

Gloves off. Grow a brain. Where in this thread has anyone called Americans illiterate?

The ONLY mention like that in this thread is once, referring to those who settled North America, who were at that time probably British.

Come on - show me where the supposed abuse is, apart from in your imagination. Just your saying something doesn't make it so.

Front up!

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater
Updated:

@Zom


Where in this thread has anyone called Americans illiterate?


I agree no one said all Americans are illiterate, and your other points in your latest post are valid. However, in my earlier post I did say there's evidence from US government, church, and private records a portion of the US residents (mostly citizens) in the 18th and 19th centuries were what we would call illiterate today because they couldn't read and write; many could read, but couldn't write or spell well. Mostly due to no, or poor, access to schooling opportunities in their childhood. And that was also true of most countries in the world at that time.

edit to add: Don't know why I didn't get jumped on like some others in the thread did.

Now that we've taken this diversion as far as it can go, let's try and get back to the main topic of the thread, please.

Replies:   richardshagrin
richardshagrin

@Ernest Bywater

Its been a long topic, have we discussed okeydokey? I don't know anyone who used it, but I think I heard it a long time ago.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater  Zom
Ernest Bywater

@richardshagrin

have we discussed okeydokey


I think someone did mention okeydokey early in the piece, but I think we did resolve, early on, the initial question on to write OK or Ok as being OK.

Zom
Updated:

@richardshagrin


have we discussed okeydokey?


I guess we could but, with the original sentiment of the thread, I would have to point out that dictionaries give it as 'okey dokey' or 'okey-dokey' but not 'okeydokey' :-) Or is it 'och eye doech eh?'

sejintenej

I am going to continue it: from gen studies I found that 18 year olds signing up for service in Italy in 1896 were rated as "able to read, able to write (on unable in either case) and in Britain at about the same time the 10 year census had a similar requirement. My wife's and my ancestors both were entered as able to read and write. We have illiterates at age 17 even noww

Replies:   Zom
Zom

@sejintenej

I am going to continue it:

Sadly, that's continuing the diversion, not the main topic ...

Crumbly Writer

@richardshagrin

Lets not go overboard on how great our founding fathers were to provide education for everyone. Mandatory education was for children, and often allowed dropping out a what seems to us a fairly early age. There were child workers in factories working 10 and 12 hour days. Slaves not only did not get "free" education, there were laws against teaching them to read, at least in the south.

The majority of "mandatory education" in the U.S. happened after the Civil War, and the restrictions on how and when parents and children could drop out have gotten stricter over time. Even during our God awful "Separate But Equal" days, blacks were guaranteed an education. It was guaranteed to be inferior, but it was required by law. However, many states simply didn't pay diddly for the black schools, while piling money in local taxes on the better white schools (a situation which still exists to this day).

Zom, I had to reread my passage to see how I used the term "foppish", but you get my main point. The discussions about American vs. Queen's English is based on current standards rather than on historic differences. You're simply stating which you prefer NOW, rather than which was an effective use of language then. (The "foppish" referred to theories which "flop" depending upon one's perspective, rather than being objective opinions.

Ernest, I think I derailed the discussion into name calling when I stated I'd given up on reading the discussion. However, the general thread seemed to be (at the point I quit reading) that anything American was inferior, and that the writers of America's founders were written by a bunch of illiterates. I'm sorry, but where I grew up, them's fightin' words!

You can debate whether the American spelling of words is justified or not, but casting aspersions on intelligent and influential men is, in my opinion, being intently provocative just to cast racial aspersions ("Race" here referring to "Americans" of all ethnicities).

Is that provocative enough?

Replies:   Ernest Bywater  Zom
Crumbly Writer

P.S. That's what comes of reading and responding to forum posts after a full day or writing and you're overly tired!

Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

casting aspersions on intelligent and influential men is, in my opinion, being intently provocative


Considering how many of the US Founding Fathers rejected Ben Franklin's concept of a Negative Government and refused to include his big list of things the government was not allowed to do or make laws on, you do have to wonder how intelligent the bulk were. Everything the US federal government does today would've been unconstitutional if Ben had got his non-government sections in. Ben wanted to list huge areas of personal life the government was forbidden to get involved in, but got shot down by the others.

Zom

@Crumbly Writer

It seems clear this thread is mortally wounded, so one last shot to add to the carnage.

your foppish word usages

That seems fairly personal to me. 'Foppish' has only one meaning that I have been able to find in any dictionary. 'Your' is fairly specific. If you told me I was a fop or a dandy to my face you would need one of your many guns to remain unharmed.

I have said elsewhere that US spelling is the bane of my voluntary life. I am NOT saying it is 'wrong' or 'ignorant' or should in some way be 'corrected'. I just pointed out that the differences were eminently avoidable 'back then' but the isolationism so prevalent found voice in a 'new' and 'better' way of spelling, with only the locals considered.

I know writers who are aiming at international audiences (including the US) have trouble deciding which 'version' of English to use. Sadly it is not possible to please both sides. It is not only the US 'side' that becomes belligerent and says

your ... word usages will be rejected just as you reject ours!

I know authors who insist on non-US spelling even though their primary audience is the 25% of English speakers who live in North America.

It's a real nuisance that simply isn't apparent to those in the US. Maybe it will all finally settle down when everything 'American' is finally accepted as the way things should be by the rest of the world too.

Anyway, I'm going to have a Scotch and lament the passing of this thread.

sejintenej
Updated:

@Zom


I have said elsewhere that US spelling is the bane of my voluntary life. I am NOT saying it is 'wrong' or 'ignorant' or should in some way be 'corrected'. I just pointed out that the differences were eminently avoidable 'back then' but the isolationism so prevalent found voice in a 'new' and 'better' way of spelling, with only the locals considered.


Whilst I can appreciate the quality of the education and experience of most of the writers here there was one answer written in American English which I found entirely incomprehensible - first time it has happened to me because usually if I say the letters the word is apparent. Don't ask what it was - I've been out for a few days

Crumbly Writer

@Zom

I generally use the language used in whichever country the story occurs in. If they travel to another country, I'd expect the language (in the local dialogues, at least) to change as well.

However, since I write stories set in America (since I'm more familiar with it), I take the easy way out and use the American spellings (with a few exceptions with certain British spellings I'm more comfortable with).

Replies:   Zom
Crumbly Writer

@Zom

Zom, when I made the comment, I'd reached the end of my patience (as I'd gotten tired of the entire thread) and spoke out of my personal frustration, mistakenly jumping on you, rather than focusing my anger at the nature of the discussion. Blame it on lack of sleep, but I didn't mean to imply that you were foppish, only that the ideas you were proposing were extremely fickle concepts. I didn't express my ideas well (as I typically don't edit my online forum comments).

Replies:   Zom
Zom

@Crumbly Writer

I didn't mean to imply that you were foppish

Thank you for the explanation.

the ideas you were proposing were extremely fickle concepts.

Which ones, specifically, that I proposed?

Zom

@Crumbly Writer

I generally use the language used in whichever country the story occurs in.

I'm sure that would work for dialogue, and I agree it is the best approach for dialogue. In fact good writers often change 'languages' depending on the speaker. I don't interpret 'language' here as just being limited to spelling, but also including idioms, memes, patterns and accents.

But for narrative, should it not be targeted at the readership? They, after all, are the ones that are best comfortable with it.

There is another massive dog's breakfast waiting for anyone starting a thread on the differences between simple idioms in various places, and some of them are so contrary that I always advise eschewing their use completely. But that's another thing ...

Crumbly Writer

@Zom

I'm sure that would work for dialogue, and I agree it is the best approach for dialogue. ... But for narrative, should it not be targeted at the readership? They, after all, are the ones that are best comfortable with it.

I'm sorry, but a story set in America with American characters (or in Prussia with Prussian characters), narrated by someone using British terms requires an explanation, and the explanation best fit into the story, so it's not just a cover for laziness.

Normally, keeping the language the narrator and characters use makes sense (in terms of language use, not dialects). If the narrator uses British spelling and the characters all speak American, you'll have readers scratching their heads. The same if the story is set in Australia.

As for readers, nowadays you never know where you're readers are. I get readers from North and South Korea, China, Saudi Arabia and Iran (including the pornographic stories). So it's best not to make assumptions about who your readers are.

Replies:   Zom
Crumbly Writer

By the way, I changed my mind on the use of "OK" vs. "Okay".

In dialogue, you spell everything out the way it sounds, regardless of the word's supposed origins. To write it "OK" in dialogue implies it's pronounced "Capital O, Capital K". "Okay" just fits into dialogue better, which was Switch's original point.

Zom

@Crumbly Writer

If the narrator uses British spelling and the characters all speak American, you'll have readers scratching their heads.

For me, language differentiation is a great deal more than simply spelling. Spelling is the least of it. Spelling is for the reader, not the characters. Are you saying that a non-US author has to use US spelling if the story is set in the US? What happens when the story contains both US and non-US characters and locations, maybe in equal part? Does the US component take precedent? What if the US component is only say 10%. Can it be written with non-US spelling then?

sejintenej

@Zom

For me, language differentiation is a great deal more than simply spelling. Spelling is the least of it. Spelling is for the reader, not the characters. Are you saying that a non-US author has to use US spelling if the story is set in the US? What happens when the story contains both US and non-US characters and locations, maybe in equal part? Does the US component take precedent? What if the US component is only say 10%. Can it be written with non-US spelling then?


Sorry Zom. Mountains and molehills. CAN a non-US author write American successfully? Individual words perhaps but the American conceptualisation, the local scenarios, the cultures? I think not without having been immersed in them. That is what makes any foreign language so difficult to learn. For us American words are not too difficult to understand and I hope Pom and Strine are as easy for you. After immersion in League or Union how could a Brit write about what you call football when use of the foot is almost banned?

You write your language and we'll write ours but please don't get too complex (for example League and Union are the UK types of rugger, Pom is British, Strine is Aussie but I can't expect quite such a deep understanding of those cultures).

Replies:   Zom
Ernest Bywater

@Zom

What if the US component is only say 10%. Can it be written with non-US spelling then?


Many of my stories are set in the USA, but the main character and the narrator are both Australian. Thus I use UK spelling and terms because that's what we use in Australia. However, I will use US terms in the dialogue of the US characters in the story.

In the few stories where the main character and narrator are clearly of US origin I use US spelling and terms, because not doing so will look silly.

Replies:   Zom
Zom
Updated:

@sejintenej


CAN a non-US author write American successfully?


Yeah, I think so. I am sure I have seen it done :-) It's not like US culture is a secret anymore ...

Replies:   sejintenej
Zom

@Ernest Bywater

where the main character and narrator are clearly of US origin I use US spelling and terms

Interesting. I understand about the terms, especially in dialogue, but is the spelling because you are expecting US readership to baulk otherwise, or do you think that non-US readerships would be generally erudite enough to expect US spelling?

Ernest Bywater

@Zom

Interesting. I understand about the terms, especially in dialogue, but is the spelling because you are expecting US readership to baulk otherwise, or do you think that non-US readerships would be generally erudite enough to expect US spelling?


It's a US story with US characters, it wouldn't make sense not to use US spelling and make it a fully US story experience. Basically, in those cases I see using the US spelling relevant to a professional finish of the story.

sejintenej
Updated:

@Zom


sejintenej

CAN a non-US author write American successfully?

Yeah, I think so. I am sure I have seen it done :-) It's not like US culture is a secret anymore


Having been there and lived with Natal English for 49 years (today!) I still couldn't be sure of getting that absolutely right.

As for the US, which part of which state are we talking about? (Don't answer that - one friend owns a coal mine in Kentucky, another is from CA, others from MD and NY: they are all like chalk and cheese)

Edit: thanks to The Grim Reaper I think I would get arrested for writing in Natal English where by definition a coloured person is a half-caste and not anything darker, whites are separated from Asians (with Japanese honorary whites) ........ I notice even the US has moved away from Afro-American

sejintenej

@Zom

do you think that non-US readerships would be generally erudite enough to expect US spelling?

If UK English is their native language I would say "no doubt". We have been inundated by US films, music, some books, radio for so long that it is close to second nature. I suspect there is a class which wouldn't understand - the class that doesn't even read UK English but looks at magna books

richardshagrin
Updated:

There is Hollywood and Television program US culture which tends to drive the real thing with some delay, but doesn't really exist. Even Reality TV isn't all that real. As was pointed out, there are a lot of regional cultures in the US, some are even occupational (Career Military, wives and brats move frequently to new regions and tend to associate within their group). There aren't a lot of "cultured" people in the sense of upper-class with affected manners. Culture is in the test tube where bacteria is grown.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@richardshagrin

Culture is in the test tube where bacteria is grown.


Sounds like a major source of politicians!

Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater


Sounds like a major source of politicians!


:D

awnlee jawking

@Ernest Bywater


Sounds like a major source of politicians!


It's certainly where Donald Trump's hair originated.

AJ

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@awnlee jawking

It's certainly where Donald Trump's hair originated.


And here I thought his hair was cast titanium

Replies:   richardshagrin
richardshagrin

@Dominions Son

The next time you play Bridge, bid No-Trump.

TeNderLoin
Updated:

@Zom


But for narrative, should it not be targeted at the readership? They, after all, are the ones that are best comfortable with it.


Not necessarily. This is another 'gray area' in writing.

For instance, Brett Hart wrote everything in the vernacular of his main character, narrative or not, and it worked well for him.

Others target the readers, and still others just write in their own style.

My advice is to use whichever makes you comfortable, so long as you get the story out of your head and written. Worry about the details, later.

:)

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
TeNderLoin

@Ernest Bywater

I always use OK, simply because it gives uniformity regardless of where used and is often used to start a sentence and I think something like: Pete said, "Ok, that went ok, now let's get the next one." just looks bad while: "OK, that went OK, now let's get the next one." looks better for being uniform.


And I still say that ALL CAPS, such as "OK" looks like you are shouting!
:)

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater
Updated:

@TeNderLoin


And I still say that ALL CAPS, such as "OK" looks like you are shouting!

:)


And so does USA!

edit to add: As does US.

Dicrostonyx

@Zom

I would be interested in opinions about OK. Should it be OK, ok, O.K., o.k., okay, och aye, or something else completely


Personally, I use "okay" in writing, and generally spell out most abbreviations and some acronyms (which, contrary to popular opinion, are a different thing, not a sub-type). I do use some shortened word forms in text, but it depends on the type of text.

I'm of the school that anything within dialogue quotes should be spelled according to the way it sounds -- or at least in the accepted spelling, given what English is like. So it's all right to write: "We're FBI!", because the character is saying "eff bee eye", but I would write "How are you, Mister Smith?", because the character is saying "mister".

Outside of dialogue, I use some abbreviations, so I would refer to "Mr. Smith" in text. Outside of dialogue I generally don't use contractions though, except for a very few, while I will use those in dialogue. So a character might say "You can't do that", but a description would use "cannot".

Dominions Son

@Dicrostonyx

abbreviations and some acronyms (which, contrary to popular opinion, are a different thing, not a sub-type).


Actually, a lot of what people call acronyms are just initialisms. The definition of Acronym may eventually shift to cover initialisms but it isn't universally recognized as doing so yet. To be a proper acronym it has to be pronounceable as a word, otherwise it's just an initialism.

http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2012/05/the-difference-between-an-acronym-and-an-initialism/

Replies:   Zom
Zom

@Dominions Son

Actually, a lot of what people call acronyms are just initialisms.

Here I was thinking initialisms were already a subset of acronyms.

According to Webster:
Full Definition of acronym:
a word (as NATO, radar, or laser) formed from the initial letter or letters of each of the successive parts or major parts of a compound term; also: an abbreviation (as FBI) formed from initial letters:


and again:
Definition of initialism:
an abbreviation formed from initial letters.


My geriatric logic sees the latter as a subset of the former, according to Webster at least.

Ernest Bywater

@Zom

My geriatric logic sees the latter as a subset of the former, according to Webster at least.


Mt 1960s door-stopper Webster doesn't include initialisms as part of acronyms. From another old print dictionary and acronym has to sound like a word by itself. Thus the initials of the California Highway Patrol is CHP while its acronym is CHiP - this is because the H initial is extended to Hi to make it an acronym.

With regards to the FBI, that's the initials while its acronym is FeBI and is pronounced Feebee. It would seem the current Webster's management are looking to merge the two.

Replies:   Zom  Dominions Son
Zom

@Ernest Bywater

looking to merge the two

Bit past looking to methinks. Webster provides academic evidence that popular usage eventually becomes the reference, at least in the US.

Oxford and New World have not jumped on the bandwagon yet.

I was interested to learn that acronym itself is only 73 years old, and it's changing its meaning already!

Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

It would seem the current Webster's management are looking to merge the two.


Webster's tends to base it's definitions on popular usage. They are constantly combing print and online media for new words or new usages for existing words. They were the first US based dictionary to list ain't.

All Webster's has done is capture the fact that most people don't know what an initialism is and think initialisms are acronyms.

Dominions Son

@Zom

My geriatric logic sees the latter as a subset of the former, according to Webster at least.


And if you check other dictionaries, you will find that currently, Webster's is the only one that defines acronym and initialism so that initialism is a subset of acronym rather than the other way around.

Capt Zapp

@Dominions Son

They were the first US based dictionary to list ain't.


That's just wrong. I was taught that 'ain't' ain't a real word!

Are they the same ones who say that an emoji (not the word, but the characters) are words? That's kinda like when the 'artist formerly known as Prince' changed his name to a symbol that the symbol he used was a word.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son

They are constantly combing print and online media for new words or new usages for existing words. They were the first US based dictionary to list ain't.


So they appear to be trying to justify slang and dialect as normal usage. Interesting behaviour. But considering their history of disregarding what is normal by the rest of the world, not surprising.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Capt Zapp

Are they the same ones who say that an emoji (not the word, but the characters) are words?


Probably. I haven't followed that particular issue, but that strikes me as in line with what they have done on other word use issues.

Dominions Son
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater


So they appear to be trying to justify slang and dialect as normal usage.


As to the issue of normal usage, I would tend to agree with Websters. Formal rules may define "proper usage", but "normal usage" is the way the majority of real people speak/write, whether that agrees with the formal rules or not.

Basically, though that isn't the way they would put it.

Webster's core philosophy is that language in general, not just the English language, is defined by the way real people speak and write in every day circumstances, not by formal rules written by some authority.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son

Webster's core philosophy is that language in general, not just the English language, is defined by the way real people speak and write in every day circumstances,


Yeah, but who gets to decide which group of real people is the one you go with. On the basis above we should all be writing and talking like Gangsta Rappers - yeah, right. Dat Ho needs to get da head read.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater


Yeah, but who gets to decide which group of real people is the one you go with.


Edited:

Simple, the group of real people you go with is everyone. Majority rules. Webster's is focused on US not international English, so it's everyone in the US.

As I said, they are constantly combing all forms of media in the US for word references/usages. I don't know the exact cut off points, but a given word/usage has to his some minimum number of uses / references in a given time frame before they incorporate it. If there are multiple conflicting usages they go with the one with the greatest number of media references.

Switch Blayde

@Dicrostonyx

but I would write "How are you, Mister Smith?", because the character is saying "mister".


I also spell things out in dialogue, but I once researched the Mr., Dr., etc. When it's in front of a last name, you're not supposed to spell it out. So Mr. Smith in dialogue is correct.

I scanned some published books looking for it and found both Mr. and Dr. used in dialogue (when preceding the last name) in "Treasure Island."

Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son

Webster's is focused on US not international English, so it's everyone in the US.


So it all comes down to who puts out the most wordage, the rednecks, the gangstas, the Hispqanic gangs, the Aryan Brotherhood, etc? Is that it.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

Yep, that is pretty much it.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son

Yep, that is pretty much it.


then we best get writing and drown the wankers out!

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater


then we best get writing and drown the wankers out!


If you can't join em, beat em!

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son

If you can't join em, beat em!


That's it!

sejintenej

@Dominions Son

Simple, the group of real people you go with is everyone. Majority rules. Webster's is focused on US not international English, so it's everyone in the US.

So they reckon the Kentucky hillbilly speaks the same as a Cajun in the marshes as the immigrant in Texas as the toff in Hollywood as the professor at Yale. They must be screwed out of their tiny minds

Replies:   tppm  Dominions Son
tppm
Updated:

@Dicrostonyx

FBI agent says "I'm Special Agent [fitb] from the FBI."

In a back room, out of earshot of the Special Agent, some says to his companions, "Yo, the feebs [or contrarily, the feds, though that could be any of half a dozen agencies] are here."


With regards to the FBI, that's the initials while its acronym is FeBI and is pronounced Feebee. It would seem the current Webster's management are looking to merge the two.


I have never heard "feebee" I have heard "feeb".


Webster's tends to base it's definitions on popular usage. They are constantly combing print and online media for new words or new usages for existing words. They were the first US based dictionary to list ain't.

All Webster's has done is capture the fact that most people don't know what an initialism is and think initialisms are acronyms.


My understanding is that English language dictionaries are descriptive, not prescriptive, from the OED on down and from Johnson to the present.

@Dicrostonyx

but I would write "How are you, Mister Smith?", because the character is saying "mister".


What do you do with Ms?

Ernest Bywater

@tppm

I have never heard "feebee" I have heard "feeb".


I've heard both in films, real life (used to work with a lot of US military people) and books.

tppm

@sejintenej

@Dominions Son

Simple, the group of real people you go with is everyone. Majority rules. Webster's is focused on US not international English, so it's everyone in the US.

So they reckon the Kentucky hillbilly speaks the same as a Cajun in the marshes as the immigrant in Texas as the toff in Hollywood as the professor at Yale. They must be screwed out of their tiny minds


IMNSHO if there are conflicts the dictionary entry(s) should be AOTA.

Ernest Bywater
Updated:

@tppm


What do you do with Ms?


I always write those abbreviations out in full for a couple of reasons:

Down here Ms is pronounced Mizz in some cases and Miss in other (personal preference of the person addressed) and you don't get that from the Ms, also Mr Smith and Mr Periot are, respectively, Mister Smith and Monsieur Periot - the first is from the US and the second is French Canadian, but the abbreviation is the same.

And that's all before you even think about readers for whom English is a second language, and thus not yet familiar with all those abbreviations.

edit for expansion on the Ms

Replies:   Grant
Grant

@Ernest Bywater

Down here Ms is pronounced Mizz in some cases and Miss in other (personal preference of the person addressed)

On the rare occasions I've heard it spoken it's generally been Mzz (the zz being an extrememly soft u then zzzz). And calling a Ms a Miss is just asking to cop an earful. "If I wanted to be called Miss I'd put that on the form, it's Mzz..."

Dominions Son

@sejintenej

So they reckon the Kentucky hillbilly speaks the same as a Cajun in the marshes as the immigrant in Texas as the toff in Hollywood as the professor at Yale. They must be screwed out of their tiny minds


No, generally to make it in, something must be used enough to go beyond such narrow sub-culture groups.

Dicrostonyx

Dominions Son

Actually, a lot of what people call acronyms are just initialisms.


I won't repost the whole thing, but I just posted about "acronmym" vs "initialism" over in http://storiesonline.net/d/s2/t504/said-vs-asked. Short version: there are two differing definitions for acronym used by different sources, currently both are equally correct. This is not a US vs. British usage issue.

Capt Zapp

That's just wrong. I was taught that 'ain't' ain't a real word!


That's an oversimplification, you were probably told that at a young age. Words like "ain't" and "irregardless" are real words, they're just bad words. Both have been around a long time and their meaning is generally understood, but because of their clumsy construction they imply something different than what is intended.

Similarly, "gruntled" does not mean happy. Gruntled is an old word meaning "to grumble", and "disgruntled" dates from a time when "dis-" could be used to enhance an attribute, not just as an opposite. Thus, "disgruntled" means very grumbly. The backwards construction of "gruntled" to be a positive makes logical sense, but it can cause confusion.

Replies:   Dominions Son  Capt Zapp
Dominions Son

@Dicrostonyx

Both have been around a long time and their meaning is generally understood, but because of their clumsy construction they imply something different than what is intended.


What meaning other than the intended on is implied by ain't?

Capt Zapp

@Dicrostonyx

That's just wrong. I was taught that 'ain't' ain't a real word!

That's an oversimplification, you were probably told that at a young age.


Why is it that when others make tongue-in-cheek remarks everyone seems to catch on? Didn't the double ain't give it away?

Replies:   tppm  Zom
tppm

@Capt Zapp

Because you left the :) off.

Seriously, I have heard that "ain't" is a contraction of "am not", though I don't remember if I've ever heard where the "i" came from, and it's often used where "isn't" would be correct. So, "I ain't..." is correct usage, while "He ain't..." isn't.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@tppm

I have heard that "ain't" is a contraction of "am not"


Back in the 1960s and 1970s I looked into a lot of word entomology and the word ain't was listed a dialectic double contraction. The full expansion being that is not which got contracted to t'ain't and because that got confused with the word taint it got cut again to ain't and has been that way since. It's most often used in a rebuttal argument like: "Ain't true!"

Replies:   Zom  Crumbly Writer
Zom

@Ernest Bywater

dialectic double contraction

It seems it has also originated from two usages independently. Both from "am not; are not; is not" (to be not), and from "has not; have not etc." (to have not).

Zom

@Capt Zapp

Because you left the :) off.

Don't feel isolated. I suffer from this syndrome constantly.

sejintenej

ain't. I am starting to wonder if this was not originally a regional word which could have any background (or none).
Where I was brought up we had a phrase pronounced sigh ule. The sigh meant "it is' and after decades I think the ule is a mispronunciation of oïl. Ule meant "good" or "OK" whilst oïl means "yes" in old French patois which was the old language of England

Crumbly Writer

@TeNderLoin

My advice is to use whichever makes you comfortable, so long as you get the story out of your head and written. Worry about the details, later.

As someone who's terrible at vernacular, I appreciate that. It's handy in small doses, but I find it difficult to sustain beyond the first couple words.

@Dicrostonyx

Personally, I use "okay" in writing, and generally spell out most abbreviations and some acronyms (which, contrary to popular opinion, are a different thing, not a sub-type). I do use some shortened word forms in text, but it depends on the type of text.

I'll use abbreviations, since they're instantly understood (in most cases) and the way people usually communicate, but if there's any confusion, I'll specify what the abbreviation is in a separate sentence (to remove it from the dialogue). However, I do use contractions in my narrative, just because I prefer the way it sounds (making my narrator sound more human, whether he's an actual person or not).

@Ernest

With regards to the FBI, that's the initials while its acronym is FeBI and is pronounced Feebee. It would seem the current Webster's management are looking to merge the two.

I've never heard anyone refer to the FBI as "Feebee". If they did, I'd consider the agent justified in shooting them on the spot!

@tppm

What do you do with Ms?

Spell it out as "Messes Alice Swanson"!

Replies:   tppm
Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

Back in the 1960s and 1970s I looked into a lot of word entomology and the word ain't was listed a dialectic double contraction. The full expansion being that is not which got contracted to t'ain't and because that got confused with the word taint it got cut again to ain't and has been that way since.

That t'ain't my taint you be touchin'!

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

That t'ain't my taint you be touchin'!


The taint of your taint t'ain't what I'd be awantin' to get anywhere near.

Replies:   richardshagrin
richardshagrin

@Ernest Bywater

Ain'ts are usually married to Uncles.

Dominions Son

@richardshagrin

Sometimes they are married to other ain'ts.

tppm

@Crumbly Writer

@tppm

What do you do with Ms?

Spell it out as "Messes Alice Swanson"!


But that's not how Ms is pronounced. It's closer to, but not exactly "mzzz".

Replies:   Dicrostonyx
Ernest Bywater

@richardshagrin

Ain'ts are usually married to Uncles.


Nah, dem da Ants, and you use Ridant to get them out of da house.

Dicrostonyx

@tppm

But that's not how Ms is pronounced. It's closer to, but not exactly "mzzz".


The normal pronunciation is just "miz" (IPA: mIz; m as in my, i as in lid, z as in zoo). The "mzzz" version usually only shows up when a character, generally an older male, is being sarcastic.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer  Zom
Crumbly Writer

@Dicrostonyx

The normal pronunciation is just "miz" (IPA: mIz; m as in my, i as in lid, z as in zoo). The "mzzz" version usually only shows up when a character, generally an older male, is being sarcastic.

Sometimes, but not often, you'll see it spelled "Mz.", which I think may be gender neutral.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Zom
Updated:

@Dicrostonyx

The normal pronunciation is just "miz"


Is there really any normal in today's multi-dialect world? It is certainly not pronounced "miz" where I hail from, but rather the "mzz" that tppm describes.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

Sometimes, but not often, you'll see it spelled "Mz.", which I think may be gender neutral.


No, It's supposed to be neutral to marital status (Miss vs Mrs (sorry, not sure of the full spelling)).

Mister is not gender neutral but tells you nothing about a man's marital status.

As to Mz. being gender neutral, have you ever met a man who asked to be addressed as Mz.?

Dominions Son

@Zom

Is there really any normal in today's multi-dialect world?


Was there ever really any normal?

Replies:   Zom
richardshagrin

@Dominions Son

I don't want to disappoint any BDSM fans, but male children too young to be called Mister were called Master. Sometimes young Master Charles. Nicknames were not used, it wouldn't be young Master Chuck, or Bob, or Dick. Ordinarily it would be Butler speak to identify the children of the household as Miss or Master.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

As to Mz. being gender neutral, have you ever met a man who asked to be addressed as Mz.?

No, I was thinking the Mz. was a variant which had been adopted by the transgender community. However, curious and unsure, I googled it and didn't find any transgender reference, so apparently I was mistaken.

By the way, only the archaic form of Mz. is pronounced "Mzz". Otherwise, Ms. is pronounced "Mss" (ideally, though most people never learned the proper way to pronounce it).

By the way, doesn't "M." stand for the French "Monsieur".

Replies:   Dominions Son  Zom
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

though most people never learned the proper way to pronounce it


Because few women other than militant feminists insist on being referred to as Ms., so few men ever have need to try to pronounce it.

Replies:   tppm  Ernest Bywater
Dominions Son

@richardshagrin

I don't want to disappoint any BDSM fans, but male children too young to be called Mister were called Master.


My understanding is that Miss vs Mrs is about marital status and has no age component. A 90 year old spinster would still be Miss.

For master to be equivalent to miss, unmarried men would have to be called master even if they are in their 40s or 50s.

Replies:   sejintenej
Zom

@Dominions Son

Was there ever really any normal?

Can't say for sure. Perhaps there was back in Chaucer's day, but maybe it was worse then. I can't say because I wasn't there.

I don't have a lot of understanding of, and hence confidence in, the reconstruction of language pronunciations pre sound recording or dictionaries with phonetics. I suspect the reconstructions are based on proses, or rhythmic structures like rhyming verse, but that would only get you so far, especially with pictographic scripts.

Zom

@Crumbly Writer

only the archaic form of Mz. is pronounced "Mzz"

Well that finally clinches it. I am archaic. As are a lot of folk I know, and lots of folk I don't know, but have heard speaking.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Zom

only the archaic form of Mz. is pronounced "Mzz"

By the way, in case I didn't mention it, that little tidbit was discovered while doing online research on how to pronounce Ms.

Replies:   Zom
tppm

@Dominions Son

Because few women other than militant feminists insist on being referred to as Ms., so few men ever have need to try to pronounce it.


Where are you? Ms is standard here (in L.A.).

Replies:   Dominions Son
Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son

Because few women other than militant feminists insist on being referred to as Ms., so few men ever have need to try to pronounce it.


In some places it's mandated by law that you use Ms in writing and Mizz in verbal conversation unless the person specifically asks you to use Miss.

Zom

@Crumbly Writer

discovered while doing online research

Wikipedia?

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Dominions Son

@tppm

Where are you? Ms is standard here (in L.A.).


South eastern corner of Wisconsin, not far from the Illinois boarder. Very few use Ms around here.

Crumbly Writer

@Zom

Wikipedia?

An obscure English usage site (of which there are many).

@Dominions Son

Because few women other than militant feminists insist on being referred to as Ms., so few men ever have need to try to pronounce it.

It's more common in the business world, where women are constantly butting their heads against the glass ceiling. It isn't so much a feminist issue as it is corporations treating married and single women differently, and discriminating financially.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

It's more common in the business world


Not in my neck of the woods. I work in corporate IT. I have had two different women for managers over the years, many women as co-workers. A very diverse workplace as well, a lot of first and second generation immigrants from India, Pakistan, China, Russia. Some times it felt like the white guys were a minority.

None of the women I have worked with used Ms.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@Dominions Son

None of the women I have worked with used Ms.

It was more common years ago, and was never popular in the less well-developed countries. It's probably simply gone out of fashion. (Men typically take offense at it, mocking the women who insist on it. I suspect, to get along, most simply gave up rather than face the constant ridicule.)

Replies:   Dominions Son
sejintenej

@Dominions Son

My understanding is that Miss vs Mrs is about marital status and has no age component. A 90 year old spinster would still be Miss.

Yes, but...
The first company I worked for had a simple policy if you couldn't see a wedding ring and didn't know otherwise:
If the woman looked over 25 then you called her Miss because either she is Miss or she probably wished that she were unmarried. If she looked younger you addressed her as Missus because she was married (in those days girls were over the top at 21)or she wished that she was. In all the years I never had any female complain about that - few did put me right but in a friendly manner.

Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

It was more common years ago, and was never popular in the less well-developed countries.


It was never popular in the mid western US states.

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