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March 22

Meaning of "traves"

This word isn't covered in any dictionary I've consulted. At least, not with any meaning that seems relevant to the context in which I found it.

The sentence is: "The author's letters reveal his traves and a man dedicated to his individualism as much as to his craft".

It appears in a 1997 review in an Australian newspaper of Hunter S. Thompson's collected letters, Proud Highway: The Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman.

Wiktionary has it as the plural of the architectural term trave: a crossbeam, or a section formed by crossbeams.

Can anyone shed any light on this? Thanks. -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 09:09, 22 March 2017 (UTC)

Travels? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:42, 22 March 2017 (UTC)
Yes, I considered that typo, but it just doesn't seem likely in that sentence. Maybe I give the author too much credit. -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 10:17, 22 March 2017 (UTC)
How about traces? The expression "reveal traces" does make sense, yet unnecessarily in this context, but you're supposed to know - whether this is so - better than me. HOTmag (talk) 10:46, 22 March 2017 (UTC)
Probably an abbreviated version of "travails", meaning exertion, perseverance, struggles. Akld guy (talk) 12:09, 22 March 2017 (UTC)
But why would a newspaper intentionally use an "abbreviated version" (of a barely longer word) that is otherwise unknown, introduces a new letter ("e"), and whose meaning is not obvious? A simple typo (missing "l") for "travels" seems much more likely, particularly given that Thompson is best known for writing about his travels. {The poster formerly known as} (talk) 15:31, 22 March 2017 (UTC)
According to the article, "Hunter hitchhiked across the United States along U.S. Highway 40". The title of the book is "Proud Highway", so there could be a travel connection there. He travelled extensively and lived in three countries. 2A02:C7F:BE18:CF00:806B:F237:22E4:784A (talk) 15:23, 22 March 2017 (UTC)
  • On reflection, taking all your comments into account, it does seem to be a typo for travels. I just found the expression "the letters reveal his travels" quite out of keeping with the rest of the article in its poverty of expression. I did give the reviewer too much credit. Thanks, all. -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 19:01, 22 March 2017 (UTC)

... and 'c' is next to 'v' on the keyboard. Richard Avery (talk) 08:31, 23 March 2017 (UTC)

If the author of that piece is still among the living, you could try asking him. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 09:42, 23 March 2017 (UTC)
How about "trades", meaning his former occupations? Akld guy (talk) 20:02, 23 March 2017 (UTC)
I don't think "journalist and writer" needed revealing – or were you thinking of "petty criminal and Hell's Angels hanger-on"? (The poster formerly known as} (talk) 04:23, 24 March 2017 (UTC)
No, I was thinking he might have worked as a plumber or electrician or some other trade in his earlier life, which formed his outlook on life and thus the content of his letters. Akld guy (talk) 05:44, 24 March 2017 (UTC)

March 23

Hempl's theory on G

Look at G, specifically the theory believed by someone named Hempl. No other Wikipedia article, not Gamma, Zeta, or Phoenician alphabet pays attention to this theory, which I'm new to knowing today. Wikipedia has no article or dis-ambiguation page titled Hempl, so going there clearly doesn't help. Do any Internet sites talk about arguments suggesting Hempl's theory is more likely than the normal one?? Georgia guy (talk) 16:33, 23 March 2017 (UTC)

The de:WP has an article on a George Hempl, a US-born son of German immigrants. The time frame would fit. There are a couple of English references (including page numbers) which may help. --Cookatoo.ergo.ZooM (talk) 16:58, 23 March 2017 (UTC)
Difficult to say if this was just an academic outlier or if it had some more profound echo in scholarship. At first sight it seems rather implausible, at least the way it's presented in our article (how would the zeta>g change have anything to do with a "pronunciation /k/ > /ɡ/"?) I'd need to research this in a bit more detail. Fut.Perf. 17:20, 23 March 2017 (UTC)
(ec) The statement in G is sourced with Hempl's original article. It is accessible here. Typing the title of the article into google scholar leads to a list of articles citing this one ([1]). This is rather short with only three entries, which – if it is reasonably complete – may suggest that the proposal did not resonate much within linguistic circles. Google books (try from your location, the results may differ somewhat) has a few more results. --Wrongfilter (talk) 17:21, 23 March 2017 (UTC)
This [2] modern work cites Hempl, apparently approvingly; this [3] older book (from 1927) cites him as a respected minority position. Fut.Perf. 17:23, 23 March 2017 (UTC)


Is it "the existence of A and B prove X" or "the existence of A and B proves X"? I'm sure there are other examples of this phenomenon. Can anyone advise? Robinh (talk) 08:29, 24 March 2017 (UTC)

Existence is singular, so "proves" is correct, but the combination of A and B is plural so if you miss out the first three words, it would be grammatically correct to say "A and B prove X". Dbfirs 09:00, 24 March 2017 (UTC)
Expanded question from an ESL user:
What rules apply when the subject group reads “A or B”? Is there not - in theory - a distinction to be made between an inclusive and an exclusive OR, similar to the logical disjunction? --Cookatoo.ergo.ZooM (talk) 11:53, 24 March 2017 (UTC)
From logical disjunction: "A or B" is true if A is true, or if B is true, or if both A and B are true.
[4] claims that " the verb agrees with the closer subject." That is, "Cash or prizes are awarded.", but "Prizes or cash is awarded." I am not sure about this rule. Hofhof (talk) 12:34, 24 March 2017 (UTC)
"Concord of the verb" with subjects joined by or/nor is discussed at length by Otto Jespersen in his multivolume Modern English Grammar ("Part II: Syntax. First Volume", sections 6.61-6.64): "When two subjects in the singular are connected by means of or (nor)...grammarians prefer the verb in the sg. ... But extremely often the verb is put in the plural, the idea of plurality prevailing over that of disjunction. In many sentences, or might easily be replaced by and. ... The pl is inevitable if the word nearest to the verb is in the pl". Note that simple formal logic doesn't always govern language usage. AnonMoos (talk) 12:58, 24 March 2017 (UTC)
Sure, and since language does not always match formal logic (or, real language does not match what some believe it should logically be), it's best to express OR relationships explicitly, "either A or B (not both)", "A or B or both", "A and/or B", whenever it's important. In spoken language the exclusive OR can be expressed by emphasizing the word too.Hofhof (talk) 13:12, 24 March 2017 (UTC)
Thank you. I guess I would have intuitively chosen the longwinded / clumsy rephrasing (A proves… and B proves… and A and B prove…). If this turns out to be prolix and verbose, the rule of the closer subject is useful, be it fishy or not. --Cookatoo.ergo.ZooM (talk) 14:54, 24 March 2017 (UTC)

March 24

Dictionary, name of items under a headword

A dictionary is composed of headwords and how do you call the items listed under it? --Llaanngg (talk) 12:17, 24 March 2017 (UTC)

According to the "Guide to the dictionary" in the American Heritage Dictionary 4th edition, there are the main "Entry words", and the "Variants" and "Inflected forms" subordinate to them. Actually, when it comes to Arabic-English dictionaries, only the low-end or quasi-touristy ones mainly use headwords or entry words -- in the serious high-end dictionaries, most non-loanwords are listed under abstract consonantal roots... AnonMoos (talk) 12:35, 24 March 2017 (UTC)
I call the items under the headwords "definitions". Is that what you are asking about? —Stephen (talk) 19:33, 24 March 2017 (UTC)
Most people would call them "meanings". The Oxford English Dictionary doesn't call them anything - the examples are just numbered. 2A02:C7F:BE18:CF00:50DC:4A16:B6BA:9408 (talk) 19:40, 24 March 2017 (UTC)
Or "senses". —Tamfang (talk) 01:58, 28 March 2017 (UTC)
Yes, see this comment:

The terminology they use is "signification, or senses." 2A02:C7F:BE2D:9E00:70ED:E91B:28C3:B28E (talk) 10:47, 25 March 2017 (UTC)

Naturally Sound?

This an exert from Atharva Veda Book 1: HYMN XXXIV, except it has been translated into a form of Early PIE, rendered in IPA. I obtained this from a linguist who apparently has a lot of interesting ideas about PIE, very different from the mainstream ones. It is supposed to sound soft. Would you say this looks like natural? The linguist interprets Early PIE as a language with only two real vowels, a and e. ɐ is an allophone of x, and ə an allophone of h.

Seɐ ālu mels anej breukʷ.

Meleh nu up-ne te áusmi.

Me mel-sweɐdus minég.

Re mels hesi gen.

Dḷku mes, meli dumbi.

Nu sweɐdusme meli wreɐdeh.

Mes ais dʱesi,

Nu mes nu mé-me eynes hestxe.

Note that he gave me no translation.

Idielive (talk) 2 10:49, 24 March 2017 (UTC)

Nobody here has any way of answering this as long as you don't provide any information about the reconstruction principles, the intended words, the Sanskrit original, etc. You are wasting your own and our time with these kinds of postings. Fut.Perf. 15:51, 24 March 2017 (UTC)
And also, the spelling of excerpt is excerpt. Akld guy (talk) 19:22, 24 March 2017 (UTC)
It is all about honey (mels, meleh, mel-sweɐdus, etc.). Mels = from honey, meleh = with honey, mel-sweɐdus = sweet as honey. —Stephen (talk) 19:43, 24 March 2017 (UTC)

Thank god for you Stephen G. Brown! Idielive (talk) 2 4:03, 24 March 2017 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2602:306:BDA8:E90:258A:3F44:E7C7:8B4B (talk)

From honey sprang this Plant to life; with honey now we dig thee up.
 Make us as sweet as honey, for from honey hast thou been produced.
My tongue hath honey at the tip, and sweetest honey at the root: .
 Thou yieldest to my wish and will, and shalt be mine and only mine.
My coming in is honey-sweet and honey-sweet, my going forth:
 My voice and words are sweet: I fain would be like honey in my look.
Sweeter am I than honey, yet more full of sweets than licorice:
 So mayst thou love me as a branch full of all sweets, and only me.
Around thee have I girt a zone of sugar-cane to banish hate.
 That thou mayst be in love with me, my darling never to depart. Wymspen (talk) 22:34, 24 March 2017 (UTC)

March 25

Surprise packet

Christmas Island, part of the republic of Kiribati, is spelt Kiritimati in the local language. This word means "Christmas". In the Kiribati language ti is pronounced s (rather similar to as in "nation"), but this is not intuitive to non - natives, so while natives pronounce it "Christmas" others may not. Are there any other examples of letter combinations with a surprising sound? (talk) 15:26, 25 March 2017 (UTC)

Much of the English language, for a start. HenryFlower 16:03, 25 March 2017 (UTC)
For example, the military ranks colonel ("kernel") and lieutenant ("left-tenant" in British). ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 16:13, 25 March 2017 (UTC)
The very word Kiribati, is pronounced /kiribas/ in the local language (and sometimes in English as well). Additionally, the English gh is pronounced /f/ in cough, and the English x is pronounced /z/ in some rare words, e.g. xylophone. HOTmag (talk) 17:30, 25 March 2017 (UTC)
WHAAOE: List of names in English with counterintuitive pronunciations Asmrulz (talk) 17:35, 25 March 2017 (UTC)
Also, in Rushin, the case ending -go is pronounced -vo. The rest is more or less phonetic. Asmrulz (talk) 17:35, 25 March 2017 (UTC)
Kiribati means "Gilberts".—Wavelength (talk) 18:05, 25 March 2017 (UTC)
See The Chaos and ghoti. Matt Deres (talk) 00:04, 26 March 2017 (UTC)
Apologies, only vaguely related, just out of interest. Am I using the right terms if I say that the "phonotactics" of the Gilbertese language only allow "open (CV) syllables with no coda"? pɪit æɪ jɯ aka --Shirt58 (talk) 07:49, 26 March 2017 (UTC)
Yes, by definition an open syllable is one with no coda. CV is the universally "unmarked" (there's that word again) syllable type -- all languages allow it. AnonMoos (talk) 08:08, 26 March 2017 (UTC)
AnonMoos: so, did I use the term "phonotactics" correctly in this context? Woo-hoo! Pete "one of the WP:ADMINs that markedly wouldn't have the faintest clue how to set a range-block" AU aka --Shirt58 (talk) 08:50, 26 March 2017 (UTC)
Houyhnhnm, pronounced /ˈhwɪnəm/.
St John, pronounced ‘sinjun’.
hiccough, pronounced ‘hiccup’.
Wednesday, pronounced ‘wenzday’.
Colonel, pronounced ‘kernal’. —Stephen (talk) 07:34, 26 March 2017 (UTC)
Wednesday and Colonel have the same spelling and basically the same pronunciation in all quasi-standard dialects of English, so while they're unusual spellings, they would not be a surprise to a literate English-speaker. AnonMoos (talk) 08:08, 26 March 2017 (UTC)
What do you mean by "quasi-standard dialects of English"? HOTmag (talk) 11:22, 26 March 2017 (UTC)
Dialects other than those which are heavily-regional, creole-influenced, or make no particular attempt to at least partially correspond to written English... AnonMoos (talk) 12:55, 26 March 2017 (UTC)
I can't think of any concrete example that meets your criteria. HOTmag (talk) 14:16, 26 March 2017 (UTC)
The most extreme example is Saramaccan, which derives more from English than it does from any other single language, but which has basically zero spoken mutual intercomprehensibility with General American or Received Pronunciation. There are many intermediate situations along the continuum... AnonMoos (talk) 20:40, 26 March 2017 (UTC)
Oh, sorry, I misinterpreted you. You'd written: "[quasi standard] dialects other than those which are...", so I thought you'd meant: "[quasi standard] dialects, other than those which are etc." (i.e. the words "which are " refer to the word "those "). Now I understand you'd meant: "[quasi standard] dialects (other than those), which are etc." (i.e. the words "which are " refer to the word "dialects "). If I'd written this sentence, I'd have written: "Every dialect, other than those, which is etc.", so that no misunderstanding might have arisen. Anyway, now I wonder what you'd meant by "those "... HOTmag (talk) 07:45, 27 March 2017 (UTC)
I wonder if "Wednesday" has anything to do here. The OP has asked about a "surprising sound", not about absence of sounds, which is not a rare phenomenon. Check: lamb, sign, hour, know, island, castle, law (vs. cow, low), fault (when reading poetry), and the well-known examples in non-rhotic English, and so forth.
As for "colonel": It had already been mentioned in this thread, and it is a good example, in General American accent.
As for St John: No wonder about its pronunciation. Basically, it should have been pronounced /sɪnt dʒʌn/, but the /t/ assimilates to the following sound /d/, so it becomes /sɪn(d) dʒʌn/. HOTmag (talk) 08:20, 26 March 2017 (UTC)
Do you not sound the l in fault in your lingo, HOTmag? Where r u from? -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 08:30, 26 March 2017 (UTC)
I do sound the /l/, except on special occasions, as mentioned above. HOTmag (talk) 09:35, 26 March 2017 (UTC)
HOTmag -- "hour" and "island" have quite remote etymological spellings (similar to the b in "debt"), meant to retroactively coerce the words to look pseudo-Latin many centuries after they were no longer Latin (and "island" doesn't actually come from Latin at all, though "isle" does). The "w"s after vowel letters are very dubiously "silent" (resulting from diphthongs that monophthongized to long vowels, some of which have rediphthongized in Modern English). Most of the rest result from sound losses in Middle or Modern English (though "sign" is a little more complex, since spelling "gn" means IPA [ɲ] in French). AnonMoos (talk) 13:05, 26 March 2017 (UTC)
As for: hour, island, sign, and the rest - resulting "from sound losses in Middle or Modern English": Of course, but I only gave examples of "absence of sounds", so don't you agree that all of these words contain absence of sounds normally sounded in other words?
As for law: From an etymological viewpoint, you are right; However, practically, the w - normally sounded as a consonant (e.g. in cow low) - is not sounded in law, at least not as a consonant; Further, in speech having the cot-caught merger, law is sounded like la, so the w is absolutely not sounded. Indeed, when considering phonology, this phenomenon can easily be reasoned, but practically - the w is not sounded, and this was my point: showing that absence of sounds "is not a rare phenomenon" in English. HOTmag (talk) 14:16, 26 March 2017 (UTC)
Where in the world are you getting that "w" is sounded as a consonant in "cow" or "low"? I'm sorry, that's 100% wrong. The "w" modifies the vowel sound but is otherwise silent in those words. --Trovatore (talk) 18:23, 27 March 2017 (UTC)
Actually, now that I think about it, in "low" it doesn't even modify the vowel sound; it's just plain silent. --Trovatore (talk) 18:25, 27 March 2017 (UTC)
In "cow", the trailing "w" is kind of like a "u", like if it were spelled "cau". In "low" it works the same as if it were a trailing "e" or "h" or whatever turns it into a long "o". ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 18:51, 27 March 2017 (UTC)
"Cow" is pronounced /kaʊ/. If you want to interpret that as the "w" representing /ʊ/, I guess you can, but in any case it is not a consonant. "Low" and "lo" are pronounced identically. --Trovatore (talk) 18:56, 27 March 2017 (UTC)
Precisely. The trailing "w" is not a consonant. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 19:07, 27 March 2017 (UTC)
@Trovatore, it seems your accent has the cot-caught merger, so you may consider the "o" in "low" (and in "hope") - which is (of course) different from the monophthong of "cot-caught" - as a monophthong as well. However, in my GA accent, "cot" is pronounced with a monophthong: [kat], "caught" being pronounced with a different monophthong: [kɔt], while "hope" and "low" are pronounced with a diphthong: [hɔʊp] and [lɔʊ], i.e. they begin with an /ɔ/ (like that of "caught" and of "dog" in GA accent) - or rather with an /o/ (like that of "for" in our North American accent), but end with an /ʊ/ (like that of "put"). BTW, that's why "hope" and "low" are transcribed in IPA with a diphthong: [hɔʊp] and [lɔʊ], or [hoʊp] and [loʊ].
As for "cow" pronounced /kaʊ/: You are right, and also its IPA transcription is /kaʊ/ - i.e. it's a diphthong (beginning with an /a/ and ending with an /ʊ/), but you forgot to add that also the IPA transcription of "low" has a diphthong: [lɔʊ] or [loʊ] - and I guess that's because your accent has the cot-caught merger so you consider the "o" in "low" (and in "hope") to be a monophthong. That's why you claimed: "in 'low' it doesn't even modify the vowel sound ". However, actually, the w in "low" does modify the vowel sound of "o", because the "o" in "dog" and in "for" is a monophthong, while the "ow" in "low" is a diphthong. Anyways, words like "so" (and "lo") prove nothing, because every word (except for "do and for "to") ending with "o" - is pronounced with a diphthong [ɔʊ] or /oʊ/ - as if it was spelled with "ow" (as in "I sow"). Anyway, when I think about the pronunciation of "o", I think about its pronunciation as a monophthong (in GA accent) in "dog" and in "for", so to my ears the w in "low" does add something - absent in the regular "o" like that of "dog" and of "for" (not of "lo" though, but again this word proves nothing).
As for whether w is a consonant: Indeed, the w is not a consonant, but rather a semi-consonant. So, when I wrote that w is sounded as a "consonant" (e.g. in "cow" and "low"), I meant it's sounded as a semi-consonant (e.g. in "cow" and "low"). I wrote "consonant" (rather than a "semi-consonant"), to be brief. Indeed, w is the corresponding semi-consonant of the vowel /u/ rather than of the vowel /ʊ/. However, English has no corresponding semi-consonant of the vowel /ʊ/, so w can be regarded also as the closest corresponding English semi-consonant of the vowel /ʊ/, because /u/ and /ʊ/ are rather close to each other (Check: "tour"; Is it pronounced /tur/ or /tʊr/ in GA accent? To my ears it doesn't matter that much, because both vowels are close enough to each other when followed by /r/ ). HOTmag (talk) 22:12, 27 March 2017 (UTC)
I'm sorry, HOTmag, you are still completely wrong. 100% wrong and 0% right. "W" can represent a semi-consonant, but it doesn't here. There is no consonant there at all, whatsoever. /aʊ/ and /oʊ/ are purely vowel sounds. --Trovatore (talk) 05:28, 28 March 2017 (UTC)
By the way, I do in fact distinguish "cot" from "caught". --Trovatore (talk) 05:34, 28 March 2017 (UTC)
Maybe I overreacted a little bit on that first bit. Our semivowel article (where semi-consonant redirects) does assert that (for example "fly" could be given phonemically as the (aggressively strange) /flaj/ instead of the (much more intuitive) /flaɪ/. I still think this is utterly weird and wrong-headed, because there is obviously no approximant in "fly"; it ends in vowel and only a vowel. But it does seem that some people do it. --Trovatore (talk) 06:01, 28 March 2017 (UTC)
As for your quasi-quotation from our article about quasi-vowels (or rather semivowels): Please notice, that it does not "assert" all of what you've claimed it does, e.g. it does not "assert" that /flaj/ is "(aggressively strange)", nor that /flaɪ/ is "(much more intuitive)". However, when I still think about it a little more, I can guess that's why you've put these words in brackets only, am I right now? HOTmag (talk) 07:11, 28 March 2017 (UTC)
It wasn't quotation, it was indirect discourse, and yes, the words in parentheses are mine. You're not a native speaker, right, HOTmag? It's a little strange when you act like you are. --Trovatore (talk) 19:00, 28 March 2017 (UTC)
The silence of s in island is not due to any sound loss, but due to a false etymological spelling, connecting the word to the unrelated isle. The original was iland, coming from i-land, (yland) where "i" is the modern reflex of Old English ieg, see The word egg in some place names has the same origin, such as Egg Harbor, NJ. μηδείς (talk) 16:58, 26 March 2017 (UTC)
Please notice that the expression "sound losses" (that was quoted from what user:Anonmoos had written) had not referred to the words hour, island, sign, but rather to "the rest" (i.e. lamb, know, castle, and likewise). HOTmag (talk) 19:23, 26 March 2017 (UTC)
February: pronounced as it is spelt in Scottish English, but in standard English English it is normally pronounced as though it was spelt "Febyoory" Iapetus (talk) 13:53, 27 March 2017 (UTC).
[citation needed] -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 20:59, 27 March 2017 (UTC)
Yes, Iapetus, I think you need to explain that. Do you mean only three syllables? I don't think that's "standard" for anyone, though it might be rendered in fast speech.
Personally, I say /'fɛbju:,ɛri:/, but I don't cringe too much when people say /'fɛbru:,ɛri:/. Though it does make me think of Kevin Kline in The Pirates of Penzance. --Trovatore (talk) 21:06, 27 March 2017 (UTC)
In British English, there's a general tendency for -ary and -ory endings to be unstressed (not secondary stressed) with schwa vowels. So February would start as /'fɛbju:ərɪ/ with 4 syllables, but given the existence of "centering diphthongs" in such accents, there's a natural tendency for this to be elided to /'fɛbjʊə̯rɪ/ with 3 syllables... AnonMoos (talk) 04:34, 28 March 2017 (UTC)
"Febri", with two syllables isn't uncommon in casual or fast speech in Britain. Naturally follows "Janri". Itsmejudith (talk) 14:52, 28 March 2017 (UTC)
As with pronouncing "library" as "lib-ree". ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 15:44, 28 March 2017 (UTC)
In this country people talk about doing things in "Jan" or "Feb" - these are the only months abbreviated in this way. Only February, March, May and August are used as surnames and only April to August (inclusive) as forenames. "Julie" follows the old pronunciation (before the stress shifted to the last syllable). (talk) 15:11, 28 March 2017 (UTC)
Don January and January Jones would slightly disagree. -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 18:09, 28 March 2017 (UTC)

March 26

"she's a Portsmouth"

Currently watching S01E09 of The Crown (TV series) and came across this conversation:

   Queen:"I'm surprised to hear you turning down the opportunity of going to America.
   Queen:"Well, that's where your girlfriend's from, isn't it?"
   Queen:"Fiancée? Goodness. Who is she? Money, I hope. So you can keep up the stables.
   Porchey:"Actually, she's a Portsmouth."
   Queen:"Oh, dear. So no money."
   Porchey:"Some money."

What does "she's a Portsmouth" mean?

Porchey's fiancée is from America, so presumably she's not from Portsmouth, UK. There are a number of cities named Portsmouth in US, but none would be so famous as to qualify as an immediately recognizable "a Portsmouth" to a British person, I'm guessing here. ECS LIVA Z (talk) 03:24, 26 March 2017 (UTC)

In The Crown (TV series)#Season 1 (2016), the name "Porchey" links to Henry Herbert, 7th Earl of Carnarvon, where you will read that he was once known as Lord Porchester (hence Porchey) and that he married an American named Jean Margaret Wallop who was related to the Earl of Portsmouth. So "Portsmouth" refers to that particular noble family, who it seems were poor (at least by the Queen's standards). -- (talk) 04:57, 26 March 2017 (UTC)
Thanks! What's the relation between Jean Margaret Wallop and the Earl of Portsmouth? ECS LIVA Z (talk) 05:06, 26 March 2017 (UTC)
Jean Margaret Wallop was the granddaughter of the 8th Earl of Portsmouth, and the sister of a U.S. senator from Wyoming. - Nunh-huh 05:10, 26 March 2017 (UTC)

how do you count number of words that you know?

If you know, for example, that ' time' is both a substantive and the act of measuring out would you say you know two words or just one? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:30, 26 March 2017 (UTC)

Define "know". ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 14:18, 26 March 2017 (UTC)
It's commonplace for one word to function both as a noun and as a verb. In "The time is three o'clock" it functions as a noun. In "You can time it to the second" you're thinking of performing the measurement and it's a verb. (talk) 14:58, 26 March 2017 (UTC)
So, reiterating the OP's question, is that one word or two? And if a given word has, say, 10 definitions / usages, and you are familiar with 4 of them, do you "know" the word? ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 16:01, 26 March 2017 (UTC)
(edit conflict) Of some relevance may be List of languages by number of words and Number of words in English. It's impossible to definitively draw dividing lines between distinct words in situations such as the example you give. Some dictionaries give separate entries for unrelated words of the same spelling, such as "saw" as the past tense of a verb and "saw" as a sharp tool. They would include variant uses of a word as a single entry for a single word, as in your example. Loraof (talk) 16:08, 26 March 2017 (UTC)

Let's try a source. This one, quoted in The Economist paraphrases the OP's question into "vocabulary size" which is probably relevant. The result is, on average, between 20k and 35k words. The website from which the facts are derived (with over 2,000,000 tests at the time the article was written) takes into account different meanings for the same words and counts them for each usage. I scored a measly 31,200. The Rambling Man (talk) 17:18, 26 March 2017 (UTC)

Defining "know" a "word":—
  • see word for difficulties defining the term precisely. Some dictionaries list "time (n.)" and "time (v.)" as separate headwords; others group them together. Homonyms are always considered as separate words, but a word with polysemy is still a single word. A larger dictionary will include more headwords and more senses of polysemic words, by including those too rare to make the cut for inclusion in a smaller dictionary. Additionally, a larger dictionary may make finer distinctions than a smaller one, giving separate definitions for two closely related senses which the smaller dictionary bundles into a single sense; similarly for syntactic differences like verb alternation. Dictionary publicity sometimes includes boasts of the form "contains X definitions of Y words".
  • see vocabulary for "knowing" a word. The article explains different degrees of familiarity with a word. If you believe that "brilliant" means "very good", is that accurate enough to count as "knowing" the word (or at least knowing one sense of the word)?
  • In theory, by a complete examination of a dictionary containing definitions for Y headwords and X senses, you could see which of these you are familiar with. Some problems:
    • There are too many words for that to be practical. You could extrapolate from a statistical sample using a representative subset of words and senses. This is the approach Rambling Man linked to
    • The test excludes words and senses which you know but which are not covered in the dictionary. This will typically include recent slang and words specific to your locality, or even to your family or circle of friends.
jnestorius(talk) 09:55, 28 March 2017 (UTC)
  • Indeed. Words are rather arbitrarily defined anyways. For example, why is "cannot" one word but "will not" two words? Linguists instead tend to deal in morphemes or lexemes rather than words, but again, is the presence or lack of a space in writing enough to make a distinction? Compound (linguistics) makes a salient point here "In linguistics, a compound is a lexeme (less precisely, a word) that consists of more than one stem." "Less precisely, a word" is a phrase which captures the rather fuzzy-around-the-edges definition for what a "word" really is. --Jayron32 18:47, 28 March 2017 (UTC)

I wish to know what texts other than the Tanakh and Talmud are sacred.

Are any of these texts just as authoritative as the Talmud? Also, is there a such thing as Jewish shamanism? [1]

Disclaimer: I am aware that different groups hold different beliefs. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Idielive (talkcontribs) 17:06, 26 March 2017 (UTC)


  1. ^
That isn't how this reference desk works. I will point you to Judaism#Jewish religious texts and specifically Tanakh and Oral Torah. And Sacred#Judaism. Rmhermen (talk) 17:38, 26 March 2017 (UTC)
I'm not too sure what a "Jewish shaman" would be, but if Honi the Circle-drawer and Simeon bar Yochai don't qualify, then they didn't exist before the modern New Age era. AnonMoos (talk) 20:57, 26 March 2017 (UTC)
  • The Tanakh is not sacred; the first part of it, the Torah is. That is what a handwritten copy of is kept in the Tabernacle. (The Talmud are commentaries, not objects of worship, or "sacred" either.) There are also things such as Tfilin and the Mezuzzah which are sacred as representing or commanded by the Torah. Read Robinson's Essential Judaism. Your "This question is only for those who follow Judaism" is entirely inappropriate for the ref desk, and, frankly, offensive; I've removed it from the header. μηδείς (talk) 00:35, 27 March 2017 (UTC)

March 27

grammatical term

I'm looking for a grammatical term or expression. In the phrase red car, red is an adjective. In the phrases portrait paintings, leadership styles, assault battalion, portrait, leadership, battalion are nouns but they have a function similar to an adjective. There is a term or a grammatical expression for this kind of words or function? Also, the present principle can be a gerund: "typing techniques", with the same function. Thanks--Pierpao (talk) 09:24, 27 March 2017 (UTC)

That's called an attributive noun or noun adjunct. -- (talk) 09:30, 27 March 2017 (UTC)
(edit conflict):This use of a noun as an adjective is called "attributive" use of the noun, and the word retains its designation as a noun. It does not become a genuine adjective if the comparative and superlative forms do not exist. See Noun adjunct. Dbfirs 09:31, 27 March 2017 (UTC)
That's the best and simplest explanation of them I've ever seen. Thanks. Turns out that was somewhat simplistic. -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 10:03, 27 March 2017 (UTC)
Thanks a lot User:Dbfirs and in typing techniques or walking paths, typing and walking are what? Attributive verbs or attributive gerunds?--Pierpao (talk) 10:36, 27 March 2017 (UTC)
That's a good question! "Walking" has been used as a noun since the fourteenth century, and "typing" (with an older meaning) since the seventeenth century, so I'd say that they were well-established as nouns to be used attributively. Dbfirs 11:17, 27 March 2017 (UTC)
I'd say they always were nouns. The participial usage replaces a lost older participle form (represented by German –end); the archaic a-walking is eroded from on walking. Or so I misunderstand. —Tamfang (talk) 03:20, 28 March 2017 (UTC)
@Dbfirs: "It does not become a genuine adjective if the comparative and superlative forms do not exist" — that is only one of several criteria used to test whether a given word is an adjective. None of the criteria is satisfied by all adjectives, although many adjectives satisfy all criteria. See or Herbst p.162-3. jnestorius(talk) 14:34, 27 March 2017 (UTC)
@Jnestorius:: My test was for nouns used attributively, and I believe it is an accurate test for the question asked by the OP. I agree that not all adjectives have a comparative and a superlative. Dbfirs 14:44, 27 March 2017 (UTC)
In short, every word having a comparative/superlative is an adjective, but not vice versa (i.e. not every adjective etc.). HOTmag (talk) 17:57, 27 March 2017 (UTC)
No: adverbs often have comparative/superlative. jnestorius(talk) 09:11, 28 March 2017 (UTC)

Colloquial Arabic imperatives

How is the imperative of w-initial verbs like "wiṣil/yūṣal" (arrive) or "wiqiʿ/yūqaʿ" (fall) formed in Levantine and/or Egyptian? --Lazar Taxon (talk) 22:59, 27 March 2017 (UTC)

The only thing in Arabic that I was taught in the IDF, is that the imperative for "stop" (waqaf/yaqif, MSA imperative qif) in the Palestinian Arabic is waqef. -- (talk) 08:52, 28 March 2017 (UTC)

March 28

Word sought

I have the word “Category” and “Genre”, what follows or what else could I use? A list of words please? (talk) 15:45, 28 March 2017 (UTC)

Check the lists in [5] and [6]. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 15:51, 28 March 2017 (UTC)
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