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PostPosted: Sun Oct 29, 2017 2:00 pm 
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Peter Duggan wrote:
If you want to play pedant, you might decry the use of 'ilk' to mean similar things rather than looms being inanimate. Because (let's just say both Mr X and his looms come from place Y) the original meaning is more about place than anything else. So... MacDonald of that ilk or looms of that ilk (meaning place Y)?


[on/pedant] Nope sorry. In the usage your referring to, "Mr X of that ilk" means of a place called X ie a place of the same name. So Lord Harris of Harris with his Harris Loom of Harris could be "of that ilk" (or they could if Lord Harris didn't come from Peckham.) [off/pedant]
So the precise modern equivalent wording for "of that ilk" is "of ditto"
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 29, 2017 2:09 pm 
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Wanderer wrote:
I had someone get annoyed with my first fantasy book for using the phrase "leisure time."

I'm afraid I'm not so swift. Is it that "leisure" and "time" together form a tautology?

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 29, 2017 2:22 pm 
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DaveL wrote:
[on/pedant] Nope sorry. In the usage your referring to, "Mr X of that ilk" means of a place called X ie a place of the same name. So Lord Harris of Harris with his Harris Loom of Harris could be "of that ilk" (or they could if Lord Harris didn't come from Peckham.) [off/pedant]
So the precise modern equivalent wording for "of that ilk" is "of ditto"

Yes, you're quite right! I did, and still do, know exactly what it means (I'm a historically informed Scot), but got momentarily confused by dictionary explanations of how we arrived at the more modern misuse when I checked that out before replying to Ben.

On quite another note, why shouldn't a fantasy author have anything they like in their stories? It's fantasy after all...

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 29, 2017 4:25 pm 
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Science fiction is basically fantasy, right? I'd like bales of hay in my sci fi stories.


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 29, 2017 4:43 pm 
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It's been argued that sf is a subset of fantasy.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 29, 2017 5:25 pm 
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So we're all agreed, then. :party:

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 30, 2017 1:34 am 
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s1m0n wrote:
benhall.1 wrote:
It's because "ilk" is a fancy word. There are plenty of other, more common words, to describe things being alike without having to deliberately distort the meaning of a specialised term. If we use a specialised term for a much wider set of meanings that used to be the case, when we want to use that specialised term, what have we left?


True. But ultimately, words mean what people mean by them. "Ilk" in its purest sense is, lets face it, a word with a declining market. According to the principles of linguistics, it'll either take on a more general meaning, or die out. Which would you prefer?

I'd prefer it to be kept in its specialist sense. It doesn't suit other senses, and other, simpler words are available.

s1m0n wrote:
In any case, words can mean things both literally and metaphorically. It seems you were objecting to a metaphoric use by complaining that it isn't literally true. That's a category error.

Words can indeed be used metaphorically. That wasn't what I was complaining about here. Nor was I complaining that its use was wrong because it wasn't literally true. I was arguing, which I think really matters, that using a fancy, specialist word (I don't really care whether literally or metaphorically) when there are other, simpler, and indeed better, more accurate words available, is grating. I go with Orwell's doctrine, also espoused by the Fowlers, who had a lot of common sense about such things. One should use the simplest words possible, avoiding technical terms so as to leave them free for their own purpose, and stating things directly wherever possible. (Actually, Orwell also had a thing about using Anglo Saxon words in English wherever available, and I think I go along with that too, though not too strictly. As an interesting side point, Orwell recommended the writings of Winston Churchill as examples of beautiful, clear use of English.)

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 30, 2017 6:45 am 
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s1m0n wrote:
If you are writing pseudo-medieval fantasy, a bale of hay is a screaming anachronism. That is all.
Yesterday I started reading a free kindle book.. it began with the protagonist (presumed, we'll see) suddenly finding herself moved from her 21 century bed to some medieval place.. waking up on a bale of hay.


Last edited by Tor on Tue Oct 31, 2017 3:15 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 30, 2017 11:46 am 
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Tor wrote:
...waking up in a bale of hay.

That had to be cramped.

benhall.1 wrote:
One should use the simplest words possible, avoiding technical terms so as to leave them free for their own purpose, and stating things directly wherever possible. (Actually, Orwell also had a thing about using Anglo Saxon words in English wherever available, and I think I go along with that too, though not too strictly. As an interesting side point, Orwell recommended the writings of Winston Churchill as examples of beautiful, clear use of English.)

That's my philosophy. And say what you will about Churchill, that man spoke some of the best English you could ask for.

Simplicity does not always mean conciseness, nor does conciseness always mean simplicity. When the need for a choice arises, sometimes you have to bite the bullet. The word "sesquipedalian" is torture for me because on the plus side, 1) there is none more concise for the purpose, and 2) it is a type example of its own meaning, which is rather fun. But it's also so ridiculously ornate, it deserves all the mockery it gets. Even my spellcheck doesn't know it. Would I use it? Only if my life depended on it, and maybe not even then. That word is like the bagpipes: A gentleman is one who knows how to use it, but doesn't. :wink:

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 30, 2017 3:37 pm 
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Concision be damned. Don't use words a foot-and-a-half long. :D

Bob

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 30, 2017 3:41 pm 
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an seanduine wrote:
..a foot-and-a-half long.


Bravo!

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 30, 2017 5:53 pm 
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an seanduine wrote:
Concision be damned.

It hurts my heart.

If your vision is for concision as well as precision but you have a collision betwixt the twain, then provision for the excision which earns less derision will be the decision that serves best, in the main.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 30, 2017 11:10 pm 
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Tor wrote:
Yesterday I started reading a free kindle book.. it began with the protagonist (presumed, we'll see) suddenly finding herself moved from her 21 century bed to some medieval place.. waking up in a bale of hay.


I suppose what annoys me is that these days a hay bale is the ultimate symbol of rurality, but in truth, its a thoroughly post-industrial product. It takes an enormous amount of mechanization to produce a bale of hay, and that only became economical after the industrial revolution begat factories that drove up the price of agricultural labour. Before then, the scythe, hay rake, pitchfork and hay-wain and village full of labour were FAR cheaper solutions.

In any case, now that I've tipped you off, you'll never be able to unsee hay bale howlers in fantasy fiction. Tee hee.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2017 12:41 am 
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An Draighean wrote:
Sorry, wheels do not weave; only looms and their ilk.


benhall.1 wrote:
Words can indeed be used metaphorically. That wasn't what I was complaining about here. Nor was I complaining that its use was wrong because it wasn't literally true. I was arguing, which I think really matters, that using a fancy, specialist word (I don't really care whether literally or metaphorically) when there are other, simpler, and indeed better, more accurate words available, is grating.


I don't think that's what's going on here. An Draighean is clearly deliberately using a phrase out of register for the purpose of wit. That is a valid, indeed noble, cause. Wit & irony are the leaven of prose. This sort of thing should earn one an OBE for 'services to language'. Yes, it's not the usual definition of "ilk". That's the point. The entire charm of this sentence depends on this understanding. I suppose there are dull souls who don't know this who will ascribe a prosaic interpretation - the linguistic witticism/metaphor/cliché/definition cycle of linguistic change hinges on this - but we don't write for stupid people, we write for ourselves.

~~

And Ilk, btw, is as solid a piece of Anglo-Saxon (actually inglis) as one could wish. Before it ever got narrowed to mean "family", it meant ilca, pron., the same. C.P., "Ilk"; according to my Anglo-Saxon dictionary*. I can't claim that this is the original meaning, because who knows, but it is the oldest meaning documented in written english. So "similar" definitely precedes "family".

*A Concise Anglo-Saxon Dictionary; 4th Ed, J.R. Clark Hall, UTP & The Medieval Academy of America.

~~

What I suspect is that while "ilk" in the form of a Scots highland title "Laird MacDonald of that Ilk" effectively means Lord of the family MacDonald, what it literally means is "Lord MacDonald of that kind"***. Kind meaning family. English noble titles consist of a surname and a place name**, following Norman Feudal practice. Scots titles - the oldest scots titles - come from being the head of the clan, so that the surname and placename are the same. To avoid repetition, after the act of union, the scots nobility aped the English form without the repetition, and adopted the "of that ilk" formula to avoid repeating their clan name.

**To take the example of a couple of enobled Canadian Media barons, Ken Thompson opted to become Lord Thompson of Fleet (ie, Fleet St.) while Conrad Black became Lord Black of Crossharbour. (Wherever that was, the thief.)

***The lowland scots went went on speaking inglis (that is, the anglo of anglo saxon) for nearly a thousand years after the anglo-saxon speech of southern England began to amalgamate into what we now call english. (Really, these were two languages until the act of amalgamation (began with James the second/sixth in 1685, but not official until 1841, with a hiccup in 1745). They're closer than they once were, but they're still more distinct than Norwegian and Swedish.) In my A-S Dictionary, Kin and Kind, in the forms Cynn and Cynd are glossed seperately but similarly:

Cynn: kind, sort, rank, quality, family, generation , offspring, pedigree, "kin" race, people...
Cynd: origin, generation, birth, race, species...place by nature, kind...

Also given that this was a years before spelling standardisation, and the form words took depended of the best guess of the scribe, it's far from clear that these were two distinct words in popular understanding. "Ilk" could easily cover both.

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And now there was no doubt that the trees were really moving - moving in and out through one another as if in a complicated country dance. ('And I suppose,' thought Lucy, 'when trees dance, it must be a very, very country dance indeed.')

C.S. Lewis


Last edited by s1m0n on Tue Oct 31, 2017 1:14 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2017 1:03 am 
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BTW, do you know the difference between Kith and Kin? Or to put an AA Milne face on it, between Rabbit's friends and relations? "Kin" comes from "Cynn", which I glossed above, and means your relatives. "Kith" is a participle of the important anglo-saxon verb "Cunnan" - to know. You probably know it in the form of "uncouth", meaning creepy, but literally 'unknown'. So "kith" are the folks you know, rather than the people you're related to.

But you prolly all knew that already. I'm such a geek.

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And now there was no doubt that the trees were really moving - moving in and out through one another as if in a complicated country dance. ('And I suppose,' thought Lucy, 'when trees dance, it must be a very, very country dance indeed.')

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