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PostPosted: Fri Mar 29, 2019 7:03 pm 
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benhall.1 wrote:
an seanduine wrote:
I am not sure if this is really correct here in the "divided by a common language" thread, but when I saw this quote I couldn't resist:"The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don’t just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary."
--James D. Nicoll

:D Bob

Sounds a bit too inclusive and collaborative to me. :P

What to one is rapine and pillage is, to another, inclusiveness and collaboration ... pardon me while I floss my brain.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 04, 2019 2:03 pm 
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Nanohedron -in another discussion wrote:
While "loathe" is still common in its proper use, "loath/loth" has become quite dated and may thus be counted among literary pretensions
I (in England) wouldn't find it remarkable in normal speech. Though usually with a 'softer' meaning than the verb, almost as a synonym for 'reluctant'. As in "I am loath to raise this matter, but..."


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 04, 2019 2:48 pm 
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david_h wrote:
Nanohedron -in another discussion wrote:
While "loathe" is still common in its proper use, "loath/loth" has become quite dated and may thus be counted among literary pretensions
I (in England) wouldn't find it remarkable in normal speech. Though usually with a 'softer' meaning than the verb, almost as a synonym for 'reluctant'. As in "I am loath to raise this matter, but..."

I guess I'm covering American tendencies, then. At most levels you won't hear or see "loath/loth" much in the States, except from the colorful; it's been pretty much replaced with "unwilling", "not inclined", "reluctant", or similar. In fact, it's so out of use that I'd be willing to wager that in a simple declarative sentence, a lot of Yanks wouldn't know what it meant even if used correctly.

My personal (and half-assed) suspicion as to the reason for its decline in popular use has to do with that pesky E, an important but fine distinction of letters that people were in the end loth to be arsed about. But if true, such laziness doesn't make any practical sense, because if it did, more people would be saying or writing, "I'm going to take a bathe."

BTW, apparently "loth" is a predominantly Left-of-Pond spelling, or so I'm informed. I do confess I am more comfortable with it, than the other.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 11, 2019 7:42 pm 
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I am one Yank who uses the word loath. To me it conveys more a distaste than a simple unwillingness.

But then, I used the word kerfuffle the other day, and my Harvard-educated coworker had no idea what I meant.

And my vocabulary, and my ability to use words, can't touch my wife's.

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PostPosted: Fri May 10, 2019 12:20 pm 
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chas wrote:
I am one Yank who uses the word loath. To me it conveys more a distaste than a simple unwillingness.

A good point of nuance. :)

All right, here's a putatively British one that I never would have easily gotten: the verb "corpse/corpsing". It's used in theatrical contexts, mainly comedic improv. It means breaking character, but specifically laughing when you try not to, but can't help yourself.

I encountered it while watching a late-night TV talk show where the host was interviewing the entire cast of a sitcom, and the topic came up at length. It took a while for me to grasp the meaning, for it was never defined for the audience, so I had to do it by context. Still thinking I had to have gotten it wrong, I did a quick Google, and sure enough, that's what it meant. My source also called the word "chiefly British" - yet each and every person involved in the interview was Left Pond, so who knows about that; I'm about the last person anyone should come to for theaterspeak.

This is a tough one for me. By the word alone on its normal everyday merits, I would have thought "to corpse" meant staying deadpan. I mean, doesn't that make the most sense? Since when does a corpse laugh?

Brits, you have some 'splaining to do...

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PostPosted: Fri May 10, 2019 2:45 pm 
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Nanohedron wrote:
Brits, you have some 'splaining to do...
Never heard it. Sounds to me like the issue should be over using jargon wthout explaining it. Do they talk about chiff on late-night talk shows?


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PostPosted: Fri May 10, 2019 3:38 pm 
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david_h wrote:
Nanohedron wrote:
Brits, you have some 'splaining to do...
Never heard it. Sounds to me like the issue should be over using jargon wthout explaining it.

I don't know everything about American jargon, either, so nice try. :wink:

But you're arguably right. I was mildly offended that I was expected to know this usage as if it were a household word; while it is true that fans of the performing arts are many, and are often mavens to the point of nerditude, I am not one of them. I enjoy a performance as much as the next person, but as an onlooker I am not so addicted to the field that I must know the significance of every last lamp and signal behind the scenes, or else count myself socially lacking. Some days I do seem to be in the minority, however.

Usually the show's host is far more conscientious than that, so I confess I was rather surprised. I can't speak to his motives for the omission, but he lost a measure of my respect for it. So if you're reading this, buster, you know who you are, and may Facebook pile on you. I look forward to your repentance, and expect a prompt and abject apology to your audience on general principle. Failing that, I charge you with reckless disregard and inciting FOMO.

david_h wrote:
Do they talk about chiff on late-night talk shows?

Not that I'm aware of. And we know that that would require some spelling-out.

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PostPosted: Sat May 11, 2019 8:17 am 
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By the way, I thought that "corpsing", meaning to get uncontrollable giggles whilst trying to perform, was in common use over here. My friends and I certainly use it reasonably frequently, and we're not either broadcasters or other sports of luvvies.

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PostPosted: Sat May 11, 2019 12:25 pm 
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benhall.1 wrote:
By the way, I thought that "corpsing", meaning to get uncontrollable giggles whilst trying to perform, was in common use over here. My friends and I certainly use it reasonably frequently ...

Okay, so my sources were not altogether unreliable. I have to say that this was the very first time I'd ever heard it, myself.

benhall.1 wrote:
... or other sports of luvvies.

You're going to have to translate that one for me, I'm afraid!

So anyway, Ben, do you have any insights as to why "corpse" would have found a use so at odds with its usual meaning?

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PostPosted: Sat May 11, 2019 3:17 pm 
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I suppose it might be related to the expression "I could have died" . Though I would associate that with a social faux pas rather than a giggle.

I wonder if Ben engages in that sort of thing as fiddle player rather than a flute player. Along the lines of "people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones"


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PostPosted: Sat May 11, 2019 4:17 pm 
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david_h wrote:
I suppose it might be related to the expression "I could have died" . Though I would associate that with a social faux pas rather than a giggle.

Or maybe it means that with that laugh, one's character "dies"? That's pretty ornate.

david_h wrote:
I wonder if Ben engages in that sort of thing as fiddle player rather than a flute player. Along the lines of "people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones"

Not sure of your drifts in either sentence.

But speaking empirically, I have been known to burst into laughter once or twice while playing flute, and I can tell you it's not pretty.

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PostPosted: Sat May 11, 2019 5:58 pm 
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I would speculate (with no supporting evidence) that the usage originated with actors playing corpses, where any sort of giggling would really break character.


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PostPosted: Sat May 11, 2019 6:23 pm 
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Did some more digging; Wikipedia has an article but it's no help on origins. Found a discussion in Google Groups on the topic, and came upon this:

Quote:
OED has it from 1873 in theatrical use. The original meaning seems to be
come from an actor stopping dead from forgetting the lines or being
confused. Corpsing from a fit of giggles came later.

2. Actors' slang. To confuse or �put out� (an actor) in the
performance of his part; to spoil (a scene or piece of acting) by
some blunder.
1873 Slang Dict., Corpse, to stick fast in the dialogue; to confuse
or put out the actors by making a mistake.

So there seems to be a bit of variability as to why the word "corpse", but not much. Apparently the word's used in broadcasting, too.

In the States we normally encounter "break character", or just "break".

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PostPosted: Sat May 11, 2019 6:29 pm 
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Still on my phone, and I'm not very good at typing on the phone. It should have been "sorts of luvvies". "Luvvies" are performers of one kind or another, but generally actors. It's pejorative.

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PostPosted: Sat May 11, 2019 6:38 pm 
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benhall.1 wrote:
Still on my phone, and I'm not very good at typing on the phone. It should have been "sorts of luvvies". "Luvvies" are performers of one kind or another, but generally actors. It's pejorative.

Aha. Totally foreign to this Yank, but by it is my word-hoard now increased.

Apropos of nothing in particular, in the States we have a brand of disposable diapers (that's nappies to you lot) called Luvs. I wonder what British actors make of that.

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