Irritating expressions or worse

If you feel that your question or comment doesn't fit into the categories above, feel free to post it here.

Re: Irritating expressions or worse

Post by Bobinwales » Sun Feb 19, 2012 6:30 pm

Ken you never said a truer word, de-orbit is very high on the list of truly awful words, but I find that reenter instead of re-enter equally horrible.
Post actions:
Signature: All those years gone to waist!
Bob in Wales

Re: Irritating expressions or worse

Post by Ken Greenwald » Sun Feb 19, 2012 7:01 pm

Bob, It could have been even worse – think UNORBIT!

I agree that that the unhyphenated reenter with its double 'e' is quite unappealing. But most of the dictionaries I checked, strangely enough, went for reenter as their only choice, or their second choice. However, the OED went with only the hyphen.
______________________

Ken – February 19, 2012
Post actions:

Re: Irritating expressions or worse

Post by Erik_Kowal » Sun Feb 19, 2012 7:41 pm

As the availability of suitable locations for geostationary satellites decreases, I predict that an international orbitrator will soon be needed to allocate slots.
Post actions:
Signature: -- Looking up a word? Try OneLook's metadictionary (--> definitions) and reverse dictionary (--> terms based on your definitions)8-- Contribute favourite diary entries, quotations and more here8 -- Find new postings easily with Active Topics8-- Want to research a word? Get essential tips from experienced researcher Ken Greenwald

Re: Irritating expressions or worse

Post by Ken Greenwald » Sun Feb 19, 2012 8:54 pm

aaa
I propose that old satellites be sent to the orbittoir.
______________________

Ken – February 19, 2012
Post actions:

Re: Irritating expressions or worse

Post by Wizard of Oz » Mon Feb 20, 2012 7:49 am

.. I propose that when we have finally gotten rid of all the trees on Earth, happening at an amazing rate, all the arborists could be retrained as orbitrists and be sent to treat damaged satellites ..
Post actions:
Signature: "The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."

Re: Irritating expressions or worse

Post by Garanhir » Mon Feb 20, 2012 11:46 pm

Hello everyone. I haven't been here in a long while but the recent acquisition of a broadband connection and a new laptop might enable more frequent visits; I hope so.

There are of course many differences between the American and the British versions of our language, and we generally accept them without rancour or malice. There are, however, two words that I have so far heard only from American sources that fill me with spite and loathing.

The first and worst is unbeknownst - a clumsy and unmanageable agglomeration of syllables that always trips a sentence up in its tracks. What's wrong with unknown?

The second is behoove - misbegotten, mis-spelt, archaic and usually misused (I'm no fonder of the British version, behove) yet still trotted out by those who feel unable to say simply that someone ought to do something.

There y'go,
Garanhir
Post actions:
Signature: "And what is the use of a book" thought Alice, "without pictures or conversations?"
- Lewis Carroll

Re: Irritating expressions or worse

Post by Ken Greenwald » Tue Feb 21, 2012 1:34 am

aaa
Garanhir, Welcome back from your sabbatical.

I was surprised to hear that these two are Amercanisms. But people often don’t realize these things when they are sitting in the middle of it.

I agree with you. BEHOOVE is way up there on my list of obnoxious. In fact, when I hear someone use it I get angry. It’s the kind of a word that would do a snake oil salesman proud. I don’t think I have ever heard it used in conversation, although it is a favorite of folks giving pompous speeches and I suppose it might be used as a prelude to a good bar fight.

UNBEKNOWNST, on the other hand, doesn’t bother me that much. It’s a word you would never hear around the dinner table and, in fact, nowadays it’s so archaic that I think most people would only be using it in a mildly tongue-in-cheek way.
______________________

Ken – February 20, 2012
Post actions:

Re: Irritating expressions or worse

Post by Erik_Kowal » Tue Feb 21, 2012 5:41 am

According to the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, the adverb 'unbeknown / unbeknownst' has the following origin:

un-1 + obsolete beknown, known (from Middle English beknowen, past participle of beknowen, to get to know, from Old English becnwan : be-, be- + cnwan, to know; see know).

Certainly I have never associated it with American English in particular, having come across it in numerous books by classic British authors.

I agree that 'unbeknown(st) (to)' sounds archaic nowadays, but the adjective 'unknown' (or 'unknown to') does not work as a direct substitute because it does not mean exactly what 'unbeknown(st' means. Instead, I think the adverbial phrases 'unsuspected by X', 'to X's surprise', 'without X's knowledge' or something similar would be a good alternative in most situations.
Post actions:
Signature: -- Looking up a word? Try OneLook's metadictionary (--> definitions) and reverse dictionary (--> terms based on your definitions)8-- Contribute favourite diary entries, quotations and more here8 -- Find new postings easily with Active Topics8-- Want to research a word? Get essential tips from experienced researcher Ken Greenwald

Re: Irritating expressions or worse

Post by Garanhir » Tue Feb 21, 2012 11:42 pm

Ken, thanks for the welcome. The lovely but dotty Gwyneth Paltrow used behoove just recently in her weblog, to the amusement of British tabloid newspaper gossip columnists. I didn't think that either word I mentioned was specifically an Americanism, just that I've only come across them in American sources.

Erik, thanks for looking up the origins of unbeknownst; it doesn't make me like the word any more!

I'm just trying to work out what difference in meaning you could perceive between without X's knowledge and unknown to X, when used as substitutes for the hideous unbeknownst (good grief; it's even difficult to type!). If I was writing, I'd use whichever provided the sweeter sentence.
Post actions:
Signature: "And what is the use of a book" thought Alice, "without pictures or conversations?"
- Lewis Carroll

Re: Irritating expressions or worse

Post by trolley » Wed Feb 22, 2012 2:06 am

I just can’t see “unknown” being used as a direct replacement for “unbeknownst”. I can’t really explain it very well but it seems to have something to do with timing. I don’t think it’s the “st” ending that’s the problem, it’s the “be” beginning. To me this implies a prior lack of knowledge, that is no longer the case. You are talking about a time before you knew what you now know.
“Unbeknown (unbeknownst) to me, the shops were closed.”
“Unknown to me…” just doesn’t work without a little help like “Unknown to me at the time…” Maybe I can’t explain it very well because I’m totally wrong. I could just be sticking up for unbeknownst because I can’t think of another single word that could replace it. Behoove, on the other hand, can retire at any time….
Post actions:

Re: Irritating expressions or worse

Post by Edwin F Ashworth » Wed Feb 22, 2012 2:26 am

Unknown is an adjective (or noun in maths etc), unbeknown a sentence modifier.

Unknown to most of the Gazette's readers, war correspondent Hector Heathcote retired last month. (They'd never heard of him.)

Unbeknown to most of the Gazette's readers, war correspondent Hector Heathcote retired last month. (They weren't / aren't aware that he's gone.)

(The first example contains a verbless clause: cf War correspondent Hector Heathcote (who was [sadly] unknown to most of the Gazette's readers) retired last month.)
Post actions:

Re: Irritating expressions or worse

Post by Ken Greenwald » Wed Feb 22, 2012 4:14 pm

aaa
Yesterday, while driving home I heard an ad on the radio for a concert to “support breast cancer.” I think it might also be a good idea to have a competing concert to “support the fight against breast cancer.”
______________________

Ken – February 22, 2012
Post actions:

Re: Irritating expressions or worse

Post by trolley » Wed Feb 22, 2012 4:32 pm

There is a Canadian fund-raising organization comprised of local police forces. They do outstanding work year after year but everytime I hear their name I wonder "Who the hell suggested that name and who the hell approved it?"
It's called "Cops For Cancer". Seriously, why not "Cops Against Cancer"?
Post actions:

Re: Irritating expressions or worse

Post by Bobinwales » Wed Feb 22, 2012 8:13 pm

I hear similar things all the time, I once heard a bloke in a public meeting saying "And sitting here is John Jones, we all know what he has done for domestic violence".
Post actions:
Signature: All those years gone to waist!
Bob in Wales

Re: Irritating expressions or worse

Post by Edwin F Ashworth » Wed Feb 22, 2012 8:25 pm

Then there was the famous anecdote about the sign: 'Criminals are known to operate in this hospital' claimed to have been seen in a car park.
Post actions:

Post Reply