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Insurmountable vs Unsurmountable

awnlee jawking

Can anyone explain this for me please:

"As adjectives the difference between insurmountable and unsurmountable is that insurmountable is incapable of being passed over, surmounted, or overcome; insuperable; as, insurmountable difficulty or obstacle while unsurmountable is insurmountable."

wikidiff

Thanks,

AJ

LucyAnneThorn

@awnlee jawking

It's a really convoluted way of saying they are synonyms. Wikidiff automatically creates the part you quoted by squashing random parts from the words' definitions into a single sentence and connects them with "while". That automagical comparison generator seems quite broken too. Try comparing a dog and a cat (which shouldn't really be that hard, one would think):

" As nouns the difference between cat and dog is that cat is a domesticated subspecies, felis silvestris catus , of feline animal, commonly kept as a house pet or cat can be a catamaran or cat can be (computing) a 'catenate' program and command in unix that reads one or more files and directs their content to an output device or cat can be or cat can be (military|naval) a catapult while dog is ."

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Crumbly Writer
Updated:

I had to look this one up, because most of the dictionary entries were, as others have noted, meaningless.

This is perhaps the best description, from Hosbeg, of all places:

Both insurmountable and unsurmountable mean the same and are interchangeable.

Of the two words, insurmountable is the preferred version. Unsurmountable was considered wrong some years ago, but today it is gradually becoming an accepted form of a difficult situation or problem that is too difficult to surmount or overcome.


Unfortunately, it's completely wrong! But this site, from kris-spisak.com provides the best description of when to use "un" vs. "in" (i.e. it's determined by whether the root word is Germanic or Latin).

Thus "unsurmountable" has NEVER been correct, no matter how often it may have been used. The correct form is always "insurmountable", since it's based on a Latin word.

P.S. This is what happens when dictionaries quit hiring qualified human editors, and instead turn to computer generated bots to generation both dictionaries and examples in their dictionary entries.

awnlee_jawking

@Crumbly Writer

Thus "unsurmountable" has NEVER been correct, no matter how often it may have been used. The correct form is always "insurmountable", since it's based on a Latin word.


That blogger is guilty of wishful thinking and a lack of understanding of how language actually changes. A quick perusal of a dictionary will show lots of exceptions eg unabated, unequivocal, unconditional.

AJ

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@awnlee_jawking

That blogger is guilty of wishful thinking and a lack of understanding of how language actually changes. A quick perusal of a dictionary will show lots of exceptions eg unabated, unequivocal, unconditional.

While that's true, it's more likely that most of those words are due to other issues (ex: there's a reason why "inabated" sounds bad, as I suspect there's an exception for words beginning with vowels. Maybe someday I'll actually investigate ... or not.

awnlee jawking

@LucyAnneThorn

Thank you. It never occurred to me that the entry was generated by a bot.

Other sources say that, while unsurmountable is a legitimate word that is gaining in popularity, insurmountable is still more popular. Google Ngrams up to 2009 shows insurmountable to be far more popular, although that's not representative of general usage and may be out-of-date.

AJ

Replies:   Zom
richardshagrin

Speaking of "un" words, there is the UN, an abbreviation for the United Nations. Other words start with un, like union, universal, unique. Un doesn't always mean not.

The United States of America, sometimes the Ununited States. Maybe Separate States although SS has an unpleasant association.

Dominions Son

@richardshagrin

Maybe Separate States although SS has an unpleasant association.


When the founders wished to refer collectively to the states as separate entities, the phrase they used was the several states. This language is still used in the law when referring collectively to the states as separate entities.

helmut_meukel

@richardshagrin

The United States of America, sometimes the Ununited States. Maybe Separate States although SS has an unpleasant association.


The Disunited States of America, a novel of Crosstime Traffic, by Harry Turtledove ©2006, Tor Books

HM.

Zom

@awnlee jawking

while unsurmountable is a legitimate word that is gaining in popularity, insurmountable is still more popular

When did we start getting used to the idea that something is technically correct just because it happens to be more popular?

Wheezer

When did we start getting used to the idea that something is technically correct just because it happens to be more popular?


It goes back about 40 years to the beginnings of the massive cuts in US public education, the rise of anti-science sentiment and pro-creationism in textbooks coupled with a general lowering of the level of education in this country Bread & circuses for the masses - more football, less English & Grammar.

Ernest Bywater

@Zom

When did we start getting used to the idea that something is technically correct just because it happens to be more popular?


It goes back to the 1970s when the live TV media stopped checking they were using words how they were supposed to. The first incident I recall was a live broadcast on an avalanche in Europe where the US born TV reported said the village that was all but destroyed had been decimated when he should have said devastated, since then decimated has been used by a lot of media people and public figures in that way so it's now seen as a valid use of the word, especially in the USA. The same has happened to a lot of words and word formation as well.

karactr

Words change over time. Like all things living, they evolve and adapt to the environment. Sometimes, they adapt the environment themselves.

This is true of all sentient beings, and language is the penultimate of sentience.

awnlee jawking

@Zom

That's how language, spelling and grammar evolve. They are (or should be) descriptive rather than prescriptive, facilitating communication by encouraging use of greatest commonality.

AJ

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
REP

@Zom

When did we start getting used to the idea that something is technically correct just because it happens to be more popular?


That happened when we allowed popular usage to define a word's meaning and acceptability.

Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

That's how language, spelling and grammar evolve. They are (or should be) descriptive rather than prescriptive, facilitating communication by encouraging use of greatest commonality.

"Decimate" is an excellent example. Many people still insist on holding to the original Roman Empire definition of 1/10th, even though that particular definition hasn't been used in ages (millenia?). Since the 1/10th definition has NO meaning in the current age, the modern definition is "ANY devastating or substantial loss", regardless of the original Roman definition.

However, in deciding whether "Unsurmountable" is becoming more popular, it's STILL wrong, because the usage is based on the root's origin (based on the current, original and ONLY definition). The 'increasing' popularity is based solely on the unfamiliarity of Millenials (I assume) with a word not commonly used on Twitter or Facebook.

In short, "Unsurmountable" has never been a proper usage, while "decimated" (meaning "only one tenth remaining") is an archaic definition which has long been abandoned in ANY but Biblical or other historical usages.

That said, many words do change over time, as new definitions develop to describe new conditions, or more often, a new generation adopts an entirely new word for an older word used by all the 'old fogies'.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Dominions Son

@Zom

When did we start getting used to the idea that something is technically correct just because it happens to be more popular?


Because that's how language works.

Replies:   Zom
awnlee jawking

@Crumbly Writer

However, in deciding whether "Unsurmountable" is becoming more popular


I saw that claim too, but Ngrams doesn't support it.

Personally I'm surprised 'unsurmountable' isn't rising in popularity. English is basically an Anglo-Saxon language and 'un-' is the appropriate prefix to produce an antonym (English readily combines words of different origins), 'unsurmountable' sounds good to my ear, and it avoids any of the ambiguities associated with the 'in-' prefix (take inflammable for example).

AJ

AJ

Baltimore Rogers
Updated:

@awnlee jawking

(Insert "philosoraptor" meme image)

Maybe they're saying that the word "unsurmountable" has the characteristic of being "insurmountable", whereas the word "insurmountable" doesn't. Much like the word "trisyllabic" is quadrasyllabic, but the word "quadrasyllabic" isn't.

(Insert "Rage Faces" troll image)

Of course I don't really believe that. I imagine the "machine-generated entry" hypothesis is probably correct.

rustyken

It seems to me that this discuss has now assisted the internet trollers into deciding to declare "unsurmountable" a valid word to use.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@rustyken

It seems to me that this discuss has now assisted the internet trollers into deciding to declare "unsurmountable" a valid word to use.


I opted for 'insurmountable' for my story, but I wouldn't condemn any authors who chose to use 'unsurmountable'. A SOL search turned up eight occurrences, including from the likes of Argon, A Strange Geek and Katzmarek.

AJ

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
karactr

Personally, as a reader, I consider the implied context of the terms. "Unsurmountable", to me implies impossible to top. "Insurmountable" implies possible but difficult and unlikely.

I work production, the machine I ran last runs a part a minute. Building 615 parts in 12 hours is insurmountable but not unsurmountable, because I did it last night.

Zom

@Dominions Son

Because that's how language works.

Sure, but why only language? Why not other things? For example, if driving at 100mph became as popular as incorrect word usage, would that be technically OK? Would refusing to pay for a meal be OK if it became really popular? Why just language?

REP

@Zom

Why just language?


Popularity applies to things other than language. However, exceeding posted speed limits and failure to pay for a meal are violations of laws. Language is not governed by laws passed by Federal and State governments.

Dominions Son
Updated:

@Zom


Sure, but why only language?


It's not only language.

As to the why: with a very few exceptions (French), there is no entity/agency with the authority to prescribe and/or enforce rules for language. Thus, the "rules" of language are all descriptive of common usage and change if common usage changes.


For example,


The above does not apply to your examples the government has the authority to prescribe rules for driving and for the exchange of goods and services, and the authority/jurisdiction to enforce those rules.

If you don't understand why it's a bad idea to give government the power to prescribe language, go read George Orwell's 1984. In short: the power to control the language, is the power to control what people can and cannot think.

Replies:   helmut_meukel  Zom
helmut_meukel

@Dominions Son

with a very few exceptions (French), there is no entity/agency with the authority to prescribe and/or enforce rules for language.


Hmmm,
such an entity/agency isn't necessary.
If such an entity can prescibe and enforce rules for language on the school level for all schools, this will produce enough pressure to force most parts of the society to use these rules too.
E.g. think about the trouble for a newspaper not using the rules when the students get bad grades because they use the language as read in this newspaper.

All German speaking countries (Germany, Austria and Swizzerland) enforce the rules used in school, causing most newspapers and publishers to adhere to these rules.

HM.

Dominions Son

@helmut_meukel

If such an entity can prescibe and enforce rules for language on the school level for all schools, this will produce enough pressure to force most parts of the society to use these rules too.


Sorry, that exists everywhere, and no, it doesn't produce enough pressure to prevent language from evolving through changes in common usage anywhere.

awnlee jawking

@helmut_meukel

UK schools teach the basics of English Language too, but that doesn't stop teens inventing their own teen-speak or adopting text speak and internet slang.

I'd be very surprised if German teens don't behave similarly.

AJ

Replies:   helmut_meukel
helmut_meukel

@awnlee jawking

I'd be very surprised if German teens don't behave similarly.


They do, but if they use it in their homework or in tests they get bad grades.

Please read this Wikipedia article. Could something like this happen in the English speaking community?

HM.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@helmut_meukel

Please read this Wikipedia article. Could something like this happen in the English speaking community?


It's only my opinion but I believe not. However some sub-cultures persisting in the English-speaking nations might do something similar - perhaps Welsh, for example.

AJ

JimWar

Just to keep this discussion going. I am a huge fan of the past British TV show "Last of the Summer Wine". I think I have seen almost all of the episodes and except for a few words have been surprised at how similar the spoken language is to what I am used to hearing. One of the things that took me by surprise was when Compo said "anticlockwise" rather than the "counterclockwise" that I hear in America. Not sure I have seen either in writing by any English authors.

awnlee jawking

@JimWar

I'm a Brit. I only use 'anticlockwise'. I'd have been very surprised if Compo had said 'counterclockwise'.

AJ

Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

I opted for 'insurmountable' for my story, but I wouldn't condemn any authors who chose to use 'unsurmountable'. A SOL search turned up eight occurrences, including from the likes of Argon, A Strange Geek and Katzmarek.

I'm not surprised, as neither word is very common, and thus authors wouldn't be expected to recognize which is correct without some research (like I had to conduct simply to answer the inquiry, and it still took time to figure out which was correct).

Crumbly Writer

@karactr

Personally, as a reader, I consider the implied context of the terms. "Unsurmountable", to me implies impossible to top. "Insurmountable" implies possible but difficult and unlikely.

Technically, Un/Insurmountable describe the ability to 'summit' a peak, rather than how difficult a particular task is (although that is a secondary usage). However, in that case, I'd almost always use "unstoppable" rather than either unsurmountable or insurmountable.

I don't mind using the correct word, especially when it adds extra nuance to the meaning, but why waste time using an unfamiliar word when everyone already knows plenty of other terms for the same thing?

Crumbly Writer

@Zom

For example, if driving at 100mph became as popular as incorrect word usage, would that be technically OK? Would refusing to pay for a meal be OK if it became really popular? Why just language?

Because language describes how people talk, whereas laws govern when someone can be arrested!

Crumbly Writer

@helmut_meukel

such an entity/agency isn't necessary.
If such an entity can prescibe and enforce rules for language on the school level for all schools, this will produce enough pressure to force most parts of the society to use these rules too.

Trust me, just because it's taught in school does not guarantee it'll be universally accepted, otherwise there wouldn't be a single scientist from Texas or Arizona (where they've long pushed anti-Evolution textbooks).

In my day, I want out of my way to learn ALL the words the teachers wouldn't teach, while scoffing at the plebeian words they did! (That that helped me socially.)

Crumbly Writer

@JimWar

Not sure I have seen either in writing by any English authors.

I sure have, as they use both. American English speakers use counterclockwise, while British English speakers supposedly use anticlockwise.

P.S. Is 'anticlockwise' a protest movement for people who refuse to show up at the designated times?

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

P.S. Is 'anticlockwise' a protest movement for people who refuse to show up at the designated times?


No! It's the name of your mother's sister who married Mister Clockwise.

richardshagrin

@JimWar

"anticlockwise"

Wouldn't the opposite be uncle-clockwise?

Zom

@Dominions Son

the government has the authority

Probably bad examples if they caused you to go straight to authority instead of seeing sets of codified standards that are followed for the most part. The notion that the cart of common usage should lead the horse of grammatical/spelling rules really makes a mockery of those rules. Why have any at all? Are they really just an elixir for the pedants and have no real purpose?

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Zom

The notion that the cart of common usage should lead the horse of grammatical/spelling rules really makes a mockery of those rules. Why have any at all? Are they really just an elixir for the pedants and have no real purpose?


Because they aren't really rules in the way you clearly think of rules.

You have to understand where the rules come from in the first place.

There are prescriptive rules which are set arbitrarily by some entity with the authority to create rules, but this generally does not apply to language.

Then there are descriptive rules. This is where the "rules" of grammar and spelling for language come from.

The rules for language are not prescriptions, they are descriptions of past common usage.

Replies:   helmut_meukel  Zom
awnlee jawking

@karactr

Personally, as a reader, I consider the implied context of the terms. "Unsurmountable", to me implies impossible to top. "Insurmountable" implies possible but difficult and unlikely.


That's not a distinction I'm familiar with, but I can see how the need might have arisen.

Take the word 'incredible'. Nowadays it's been watered down to mean 'not very common'. 'Uncredible' is listed in some dictionaries but doesn't seem to be catching on (doesn't roll off the tongue?), with people preferring to opt for alternatives like 'not credible'.

AJ

Replies:   REP
helmut_meukel

@Dominions Son

The rules for language are not prescriptions, they are descriptions of past common usage.


That's true for English, but not for French or German (see the link provided in an earlier post) and some other languages.
AFAIK, it's also not true for Danish, they had orthographic reforms in 1892, 1900, 1902 and 1948. With these reforms they removed the letters 'c', 'q', 'w', 'x' and 'z' from the Danish language – names were not automatically affected – causing a change in name for the town from Faxe to Fakse, while the brewery refused to change its name and the name of its beer, it's still Faxe. In 1948 the main changes were replacing 'aa' with 'å' and to write all nouns lowercase. Because in Danish the dansk characters å, æ and ø come after z, all dictionary entries for words with aa (now å) had to be moved!

For Danish see this Wikipedia article
and this for Swedish.
Dutch: (from Wikipedia)

The spelling system is issued by government decree and is compulsory for all government documentation and educational establishments

.

HM.

REP

@awnlee jawking

Take the word 'incredible'.


I've checked several dictionaries. They define incredible as amazing and extraordinary or so extreme as to be unbelievable.

I saw nothing to support your remark of the word being watered down to mean not very common. Although extraordinary can be defined as not common, but that has been an accepted meaning for a long time.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking
Updated:

@REP

I saw nothing to support your remark of the word being watered down to mean not very common.


Look for real-world examples.

Watch any sport commentary or wildlife documentary. For a UK example, a footballer tees up a shot from outside the penalty area and it goes in, something that happens dozens of times across the country on a normal fixture weekend. The commentators will be screaming about how 'incredible' the shot was.

And news programs, social media and newspapers delight in calling relatively humdrum events 'incredible'.

Common usage trumps dictionaries.

ETA: I googled a popular newspaper site for the word 'incredible'. It was most commonly followed by 'weight loss' :(

AJ

Replies:   Zom
Uther_Pendragon

@Crumbly Writer

Thus "unsurmountable" has NEVER been correct, no matter how often it may have been used. The correct form is always "insurmountable", since it's based on a Latin word.


Language is what the right people speak. Saying that a usage is wrong is saying that the people who use it are wrong. Different people change their opinion of whether a usage is a mistake, a variation, or one acceptable usage at different times in the process of change.

richardshagrin

Sir mountable would be a master who is happy to have his slave in the cowgirl or reverse cowgirl positions. Un Sir mountable would be a dom who isn't interested in his slave in those positions.

Zom

@Dominions Son

they are descriptions of past common usage

If that was all they were then how could simple common usage create the largely logically consistent and quite detailed grammatical relationships in our analytic language? These have been named, codified, and taught, by learned people. I suspect they didn't decide by taking a poll of a few passers-by just before each class. Why cannot common usage be a result of the rules. I suspect that is more the case than the reverse, or certainly should be.

Zom
Updated:

@awnlee jawking


Common usage trumps dictionaries.


Then why bother having dictionaries? If anyone can start using any word to mean anything, and eventually have that accepted as a 'common' usage, therefore trumping dictionaries, why bother with the dictionaries?

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@Zom

Dictionaries do eventually catch up and, poor as they are, they're currently the easiest option to find out what the current common usage is. If dictionary meaning were set in stone, the word gay would still mean merry rather than homosexual - in fact the former meaning seems to be disappearing from dictionaries because it's considered archaic and demeaning to homosexuals.

AJ

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Dominions Son

@Zom

These have been named, codified, and taught, by learned people.


Why cannot common usage be a result of the rules. I suspect that is more the case than the reverse, or certainly should be.


Because nearly every if not every language in active current use predates the kind of systematic formalized education you mention and the development of formalized "rules" by at least several centuries.

Replies:   Zom  helmut_meukel
awnlee jawking

@Zom

If that was all they were then how could simple common usage create the largely logically consistent and quite detailed grammatical relationships in our analytic language?


In my opinion the rules of grammar are very inconsistent, and the so-called learned people are in constant disagreement about them. If the rules were logical and consistent, effective grammar checkers would be ten-a-penny rather than non-existent.

AJ

Replies:   Zom  Crumbly Writer
Zom

@awnlee jawking

effective grammar checkers would be ten-a-penny

Give it a few years until ANNs can be economically used to account for actual context (which is where checkers mostly fail currently). They will make it so.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Zom

@Dominions Son

by at least several centuries.

Ah - so you were talking about well in to the past. That makes better sense, but doesn't help for contemporary understanding.

helmut_meukel
Updated:

@Dominions Son

Back when Martin Luther translated the bible into German there was no German language only scores of German idioms. Each of the Germanies used its own version for official use. So Luther had to create an unified German language, understandable by most Germans. He didn't try to create logical and consistent rules however.

Thus his German was a hodgepodge from very different sources.

When Greece was reestablished after centuries of Ottoman suppression, there existed only local Greek idioms.

IIRC, there were discussions about a national Greek language based closely on classical Greek, but then a modern Greek was created. This didn't go really well.

Another case is Norway: there were only quite different local idioms when Norway and Danemark seperated, because Danish was the official language in both countries.

The Norwegians struggled to create a national language, the first attempt was Bokmål, very close to Danish, then Nynorsk. Both are official languages in Norway, taught in school. At least three more attempts didn't make it to this status, but are still used.

HM.

awnlee jawking

@Zom

All neural network programs I've encountered so far have been loaded with human preconceptions. For them to really make advances in understanding English grammar requires the generational advance of allowing neural network programs to have free-reign.

AJ

Replies:   Zom  richardshagrin
Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

If dictionary meaning were set in stone, the word gay would still mean merry rather than homosexual

Alas, that's not true, as various word histories have documented the 'homosexual' meaning for the word 'gay' dates back to the 15th Century. Thus the word has always had a double meaning, almost since its inception, and I suspect it's because of the attitude many gays historically took to fight common discrimination. There's now less of a need for gays to act so stereotypically, so your wish may eventually come true.

Replies:   awnlee jawking  Remus2
Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

In my opinion the rules of grammar are very inconsistent, and the so-called learned people are in constant disagreement about them.

That's not due to the 'so-called learned people', but due to the nature of the language. English has always freely borrowed words from other languages, while most languages will simply create their own word for new concepts introduced from elsewhere.

That's been a blessing and a curse of English. It makes learning English complex, but it's also allowed it to become THE universal language of the internet and most global communications. Since it's so open to new uses, and introducing foreign ideas and concepts, it's much more versatile than more formal languages.

awnlee jawking
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer

http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2010/02/how-gay-came-to-mean-homosexual/

https://www.lgbtqnation.com/2017/10/gay-come-mean-homosexual/

AJ

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

I had to doubleback, searching for the references I remembered. It's there, but it's an offshoot of the earlier standard definition (from Wikipedia, of all places, but at least it's footnoted as opposed to pure rubbish):

The word may have started to acquire associations of immorality as early as the 14th century, but had certainly acquired them by the 17th. By the late 17th century, it had acquired the specific meaning of "addicted to pleasures and dissipations",[11] an extension of its primary meaning of "carefree" implying "uninhibited by moral constraints". A gay woman was a prostitute, a gay man a womanizer, and a gay house a brothel. The use of gay to mean "homosexual" was often an extension of its application to prostitution: a gay boy was a young man or boy serving male clients.

The earlier reference which I remembered stressed that the alternate sexual meaning (and the associate use of 'gay' to mean 'young male prostitute') dated back almost, but not quite as far as the 'happy' usage.

The many passages which stress that the 'gay' usage only originated in the twentieth century seem to utterly ignore the earlier sexual references and their associated 'male prostitute' links. :( However, my conjecture about where the association with gay men was complete nonsense!

Zom

@awnlee jawking

allowing neural network programs to have free-reign

Yes. Interestingly, it seems that work on image recognition is at the vanguard.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Remus2

@Crumbly Writer

Alas, that's not true, as various word histories have documented the 'homosexual' meaning for the word 'gay' dates back to the 15th Century. Thus the word has always had a double meaning...


That is incorrect. Late 12th century, gaiete old French is the root of the word. By the 14th century it was gai. There was no homosexual connotations at the time. By the 16th century, there were connotations of lewd and lascivious behavior attached to it by the English. Remember the history between France and England for the timeline in question.

It was mid 20th century before it began to be known primarily as a word for a homosexual in Europe, and by the 60's, in America.

It is not the only word shown to be exhibiting morphing definitions. Goodbye is another classic example. Every time and atheist says goodbye, they are effectively using the 14th century contraction of "God be with ye" if we are to hold to the idea that definitions are written in stone.

A deep dive into the etymology of words in dictionary will yield a multitude of examples.

richardshagrin

@awnlee jawking

free-reign

Proof-reading posts on anything but SOL stories is not a good idea, but because wrong use of words seems to legitimize their new meaning (see decimate), I would like to point out that free-reign here should be free-rein. Reins are used to control animals like horses or other animals that provide motive power like oxen. Reign is what kings and emperors (and queens and other rulers of either sex) do in continuing their control over their subjects and principalities.

When you give control to the horse rather than using reins to control it, you give it free-rein. Please don't let reign replace rein.

awnlee jawking

@richardshagrin

free-reign here should be free-rein


My bad :(

You're right, I misspelt free-rein.

AJ

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
awnlee jawking

@Zom

Yes. Interestingly, it seems that work on image recognition is at the vanguard.


And there you have the advantage over me, because image-recognition is not one of the ANN fields I'm familiar with.

AJ

Replies:   madnige
awnlee jawking

@Remus2

It was mid 20th century before it began to be known primarily as a word for a homosexual in Europe, and by the 60's, in America.


And the LGBTQ source I linked to agrees with that timeframe.

FWIW, my mid-1960s dictionary from the Collins stable lists far more meanings of 'gay' than my modern-day Oxford dictionary, but homosexual is not amongst them. (However it quotes 'unpleasant' as being a US-specific meaning.)

AJ

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
madnige

@awnlee jawking

image-recognition is not one of the ANN fields I'm familiar with.


Me neither (in fact, any NN), but I do have an anecdote about image recognition and ANNs, which also serves as a warning or illustration of Murphy's influence. A system was developed and trained to be able to recognise the presence of a tank in a landscape, trained on various pictures of empty landscapes and of landscapes with tanks. However, in real-world testing it did abysmally, giving both false positives and false negatives. What was eventually established was it was identifying a sunny landscape as having a tank and vice-versa - because the pictures of tanks it had been trained had all been taken on sunny days.

awnlee jawking

@madnige

Actually that's a very good example of how current ANN technology can be tainted by human bias.

AJ

awnlee jawking

@richardshagrin

When you give control to the horse rather than using reins to control it, you give it free-rein. Please don't let reign replace rein.


Actually it may be too late to shut that stable door. A SOL exact match search for 'free reign' turned up 402 files :(

AJ

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Remus2

That is incorrect. Late 12th century, gaiete old French is the root of the word. By the 14th century it was gai. There was no homosexual connotations at the time. By the 16th century, there were connotations of lewd and lascivious behavior attached to it by the English.

It was mid 20th century before it began to be known primarily as a word for a homosexual in Europe, and by the 60's, in America.

My timing is off (based on vague recollections from when I researched it earlier) but the erotic 'associations' go back farther than is generally credited. Most notably, using 'gay' for young boys prostituting themselves was an early use (most definitely my the mid-1800s, though I can't easily find any earlier references), and that association, more than the others, which has proven the most persistent (no one refers to prostitutes as being 'gay' anymore in these days of child prostitution and modern-day forced servitude).

As such, that association seem to have been the most prominent/effective over time, rather than a 'modern variant' of the 20th Century.

Crumbly Writer

@richardshagrin

Proof-reading posts on anything but SOL stories is not a good idea, but because wrong use of words seems to legitimize their new meaning (see decimate)

As everyone here well knows, I've long argued against this particular interpretation. "Decimate" didn't change meaning due to illiterates' confusion, but due to the original meaning having NO modern relevance.

It's a powerful word, and thus popular with authors across a wide spectrum, but no one ever divides things by one tenth since the Holy Roman Empire collapsed. Thus, in order to keep the word in use, it simply morphed into any drastic reduction, regardless of definitive numerical ratios.

As such, it's a natural progression (if it hadn't changed, the word have been abandoned long ago), rather than an ignorant misunderstanding.

You should give authors and readers some credit, as generally, they're well read enough to know what they're doing.

Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

free-reign here should be free-rein

Free reign is when nothing impedes the reign (i.e. it costs Monarchs nothing to rule over their lands, say with the Duke and Dutchess of Flavanoids!).

Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

my mid-1960s dictionary from the Collins stable lists far more meanings of 'gay' than my modern-day Oxford dictionary, but homosexual is not amongst them. (However it quotes 'unpleasant' as being a US-specific meaning.)

The early 'sexual' usage of gay seems to have originated in California (rather than France, where the usage never stuck), which is also where the earliest definitive usage was linked with homosexual men in relation to young male prostitutes and vagabonds willing to trade favors for food and gifts.

As such, I can easily see a general reluctance for British/European dictionaries to credit its usage.

P.S. Apparently the earlier uses I remembered reading were never authenticated, and thus have been dropped from most references, which is fitting. The problem with most modern knowledge is that, just like your phone, it's outdated in only a few years time! :(

Replies:   Remus2
Crumbly Writer

@madnige

Me neither (in fact, any NN), but I do have an anecdote about image recognition and ANNs, which also serves as a warning or illustration of Murphy's influence.

I've never been involved in the programming aspects, but have followed the developments in the field. While image recognition has clearly advanced, it's still severely limited by specific constraints, as even the most successful attempts merely identify photos by using color matching (38% black, 27% white, 13% yellow, etc.). Most efforts to identify specific shapes have largely failed, mostly because of false and unexpected associations.

My iPhone is great at identifying family members and friends, but it lumps all brown people into the same pot (my Indian niece is listed in any photo of a black person), and any person with gray hair is identical with any other (i.e. all the AI associations are based exclusively on photos of young white males).

Thus I'm not confident in the field advancing significantly, despite however much processing power they might throw at it.

Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

Actually it may be too late to shut that stable door. A SOL exact match search for 'free reign' turned up 402 files

I've made that mistake several times, despite knowing it's invalid (like most homophones, the words are so similar it never even flags as a typo as I'm writing).

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@Crumbly Writer

It's coming to get you - Ngrams.

Since free reign is so popular in proof-read (hopefully), published works, I wonder whether there might be an underlying etymology to consider it parallel evolution.

AJ

Remus2
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer

The early 'sexual' usage of gay seems to have originated in California (rather than France,...


Again, that's incorrect. Sexual usage evolved out of the 'thirty years war' 1618-1648. At the time, it was 'lewd and lascivious' in general, not necessarily homosexual but did include such activities.

Propaganda is as old as the written histories and beyond. It was not unusual at all to twist the meaning of words, especially between the Protestant and Catholic forces.

In particular, it was the slice of time after 1627-1629 when the propaganda peaked after a British loss in the Huguenot rebellions.

There were several hundred years of conflict between the French and English. Even when not in direct armed conflict, there were active propaganda campaigns. Effectively, the Reformation can be directly linked to several derailings of English and French word definitions as it suited the propaganda of the time.

The same could be said of the cold war. Both sides of that actively participated in that sort of thing.

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