Iberianature Forum

Petri dishes, biros an' Spanish omelettes

  • 7 Replies
  • 3159 Views

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Technopat

  • *
  • Full Shroomy
  • ******
  • Posts: 3020
« on: September 16, 2009, 15:35 PM »
Greetings All,

The following leads on from a little to-do between My Honoured Fellow Iberianatureforumer, Simon* an' meself regarding capitalisation - not, on this occasion, of the little matter of Madrid-Barcelona - but of names used so frequently that they have become part of everyday language and lose their status as a proper name.

Languages - and especially English - have an amazing ability to incorporate "new" words. Thus we have relatively young inventions such as radar and sonar, and genericized trademarks such as biro, heroin, aspirin, hoover, yo-yo and very recently google (as a verb). In the first case, the acronym started life as RADAR and as it became part of [relatively] normal, everyday conversations, lost its high-falutin' status to become the common or garden radar. In the case of Mr Biró's invention, thanks to the RAF commissioning large numbers of ballpoint pens, it became so widespread that the poor man lost his good name.** Companies spend huge amounts of money to fight against the use of "their" names without what they consider due compensation.*** Stuff 'em, I say. But we enter dodgy terrain, here. One thing is to respect the intellectual property rights of photographers, authors, etc. and another is to use a word which has become part of everyday language. OK, so they can charge you for writing it and saying it - but what about thinking it? >:D In other words, I can't charge you every time you feel like cursing technopat or Tp or any variation of that name... or can I? :booklook:

Back to the specific case of Mr Petri. While US scientific bodies, such as the Center for Disease Control http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/eid/style_guide_p2_2.htm, no longer use the capital P, august, Old World bodies, such as the Royal Society http://rstb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/363/1489/87.full#ref-30 continue to do so. Journalists on both sides of the Atlantic stopped many years ago. And while old-timers like Simon >:D will, due to their deformación profesional (En. anyone?) and advanced years, carry on using the older version, partly out of corporative deference to past generations of scientists
Quote
deserves capitalization
, younger generations will probably be less hidebound and increasingly start writing unbelieveable things like english dictionary.****

Other examples over the last 20 years or so include french windows, which are no longer French and even danish pastries, which are no longer exclusively Danish. Why the same doesn't happen (or hasn't yet happened) to things like the Spanish omelette, is for the psycholinguists out there to explain. Haberlas, haylas.

And don't forget that we can use capital letters to poke fun at something: Many people believe that rock music is a Serious Art, deserving of Serious Critical Attention.*****  :dancing:

*As it's his birthday today, I've decided to be less condescending than usual  :technodevil:
**http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2134528/Biro-pen-invented-by-Laszlo-Biro-turns-70.html - in fact, correct me if I'm wrong,  :technodevil: but the Yanks don't use the biro, preferring instead the ballpoint
*** From Wikipedia: The [Biro] company's intellectual property department keeps a close eye on the media and will often write to publications who use its trade name without a capital letter or as a generic term for ballpoint pens, in order to preserve its trademark. They have written to Private Eye (who printed the letter on their correspondence page under the heading "What a way to make a living!") concerning this on at least one occasion.
****My 1976 edition of the world's best English-Spanish dictionary actually has the following written on its cover: english-spanish dictionary  :banghead:
*****Adapted from the excellent Mind the Gaffe: The Penguin Guide to Common Errors in English by R.L. Trask

Looking-forward-to-the-pat-on-the-back-for-taking-this-one-away-from-a-thread-dedicated-to-leeches regs.,
Technopat

PS.
Comments and contributions to this soon-to-become-heated debate from other users of the English language are also welcome, of course :sign:
« Last Edit: September 16, 2009, 15:52 PM by Technopat »
Technopat's disclaimer: If this posting seems over the top and/or gets your goat (Sp. anyone?), please accept my apologies and don't take it personally - it's just my instinctive tendency to put my foot in it whenever/wherever possible. See also:
http://www.iberianatureforum.com/index.php/topic,266

Offline lisa

  • *
  • Full Shroomy
  • ******
  • Posts: 2439
    • Accommodation and Activities in the Picos de Europa
« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2009, 17:58 PM »
I prefer "boli" myself and use it within an English sentence. ('Cept I imagine it spelt "Bolly"  :))
www.picos-accommodation.co.uk
Accommodation, ski touring, snowshoeing, walking and info on the flora and fauna of the Picos de Europa.
SAVE SPANISH BEARS!
And now,
The Picos de Europa
Your complete English guide to these beautiful mountains of Northern Spain.

Simon

  • *
  • Guest
« Reply #2 on: September 17, 2009, 04:28 AM »
Dear Technopat, Lisa el al ,1

All this talk of Petri2 dishes . . . Call me Old-fashioned but some of us do, once in a while, like to preserve a state of civilisation in the face of the ever more insipid onslaught of the Barbarian hordes slamming into our culture from you-know-where. I know that this results in accusations of stuffiness, grumpiness, dyed-in-the-woolly-headedness and3 even, somewhat below the belt, down to the onset of crapulous old age  8)

I have decided, following the example of that great master of traditional value and good old common sense, Mr Henry Pooter, "Not to trouble myself with such foolishness." However  >:D, there are inevitable sequelae to this debate, namely; how do you cope with imported plurals? Examples abound: formula (formulae), genus (genii), referendum (referenda) to name but a few4. And it's not just from Latin, take 'chateau' - make me an Anglican plural of that that looks correct, ha ha!

Regs

Simon

1. Not my italics - not capitalised+!
2. Surely it's Herr Petri, or even Herr doktor Petri!
3. No comma use before the 'and' at the end of a list
4. All of which passes my MS Word UK English spell-checker

+ amazing ypou didn't notice my original bloomer Teeps  >:D

Offline Technopat

  • *
  • Full Shroomy
  • ******
  • Posts: 3020
« Reply #3 on: September 17, 2009, 15:30 PM »
Greetings Simon,
Now that it's no longer yer birfday, I can really go the whole hog (Sp. anyone?) :technodevil:

Re. your el al, typos apart, the correct use is, as you have done, in italics and no preceding comma, but also with final full stop:  et al. And now that you've thrown down the guantlet (Sp. anyone?), there's more to come. It has only one function: in citing a work by three or more authors, you can cite just the first name, followed by et al. - as in Lloyd et al.

No comma before and or or at the end of a list - unless proofreading for the Oxford University Press or American (most of 'em do but use is by no means universal, even for them).

Not the MS Word UK English spell-checker!? Admittedly it's better than the MS Word UK grammar checker, but that's about all that can be said for it.

However, the most intriguing bit is your reference to the plural of 'chateau', or for the purists among us, 'château', - every cake-eating iberianatureforumer knows the answer to that one. Which reminds me I was shocked and mortified the other day to come across the incorrect use of 'fora' in an EU tender document. Just for the benefit of iberianatureforumers, who, like yours truly, are the victims of the UK eductation system, 'fora' is only correct when speaking of ancient Roman public squares or marketplaces. When speaking of places such as this 'ere great iberianatureforum - not that there are more than one - forums is the only correct version.

Anglican?

And finally, :clapping: which bloomer/blooper? There are invariably so many that it's imposs. to choose the ones needing the most urgent treatment. :angel:

Regs.,
Technopat
Technopat's disclaimer: If this posting seems over the top and/or gets your goat (Sp. anyone?), please accept my apologies and don't take it personally - it's just my instinctive tendency to put my foot in it whenever/wherever possible. See also:
http://www.iberianatureforum.com/index.php/topic,266

Simon

  • *
  • Guest
« Reply #4 on: September 17, 2009, 16:08 PM »
Excellent response mi señor,

That's a moot point about 'fora'. A quick reference to my ever ready (not Eveready >:D) Oxford Latin Minidictionary, "The most comprehensive Latin dictionary of its size", does indeed confirm the neutral (nt.) status of the singular 'forum', hence the plural  (pl.), 'fora'. Which, in case you were wondering, leads us effortlessly to Forums in general, and Blanford Forum in particular (or rather in Dorset, a rather particular county in its own right) and the deadly 'Blandford Fly' (Simulium posticatum) - I kid you not! - which in turn leads us to the perhaps even more perilous subject of the Spanish fly (Lytta vesicatoria) - thus heading inexorably both on and off topic at the same time  :angel:.

As far as EU tender documents are concerned, perhaps the less said the better as I've written not a few and responded to even more in my time (in fact I'm doing a rather similar translation myself right now  :speechless:). I can't speak for the Spanish versions of same but the English, if I can abuse the word, are always appalling, with guaranteed ambiguities cleverly disguised and clarifications! What a life!

Regs

Simon

PS a note to Maria, and anyone else who happens to be interetsed, re. Technopat's, "victims of the UK eductation system"; I too failed my Eng. lang. 'O' level (twice) and my Latin! Would you believe it, the only one I got first time out was Maths (NB not Math :technodevil:)

PPS 'arrojar el guante' ha ha!
« Last Edit: September 17, 2009, 16:33 PM by Simon »

Offline Technopat

  • *
  • Full Shroomy
  • ******
  • Posts: 3020
« Reply #5 on: September 17, 2009, 16:33 PM »
Greetings Simon,
The following got edit-conflicted:
Quote
PS.
Loved yer
Quote
dyed-in-the-woolly-headedness
  :dancing: - wish I'd've thought of that one instead of the more staid and stolid 'hidebound'!

Mind you, going on past form, s'pose you got it from MS UK English synonyms 8)

but have to respond to cause of said edit conflict:
Given that you're mired/bogged down in the middle of an EU-tender type of document right now, I'll ease up a little, but we ex-fencers normally say riposte (no italics or inverted commas necessary).

As for your ever handy mini-dictionary, (ever ready is not for use on family forums), ask any one who works with words, but there's only one thing less accurate than MS UK English spell checker. That's right! You guessed it: mini- and pocket dictionaries.

Re. yer Blandford fly, as usual, the f. of the s. ...

Someone-around-here-needs-to-get-some-work-done regs.,
Technopat
Technopat's disclaimer: If this posting seems over the top and/or gets your goat (Sp. anyone?), please accept my apologies and don't take it personally - it's just my instinctive tendency to put my foot in it whenever/wherever possible. See also:
http://www.iberianatureforum.com/index.php/topic,266

Offline elmussol

  • *
  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 85
    • els Mussols
« Reply #6 on: September 19, 2009, 15:07 PM »
...And now that you've thrown down the guantlet (Sp. anyone?)...

Not being sure what a guant or little one of the same might be ;-), I wouldn't hazard a guess.

The throwing down of gauntlets was far more common where I used to live.
 
Quote from: Technopat
Not the MS Word UK English spell-checker!? Admittedly it's better than the MS Word UK grammar checker, but that's about all that can be said for it.

Eek...

Quote from: Technopat
However, the most intriguing bit is your reference to the plural of 'chateau', or for the purists among us, 'château', - every cake-eating iberianatureforumer knows the answer to that one.

Being an Oxford kind of typesetter, I incline towards no circumflex and a plural -eaux. As in chateau:

chateau

/shatto/

  • noun (pl. chateaux pronunc. same or /shattoz/) a large French country house or castle.

  — ORIGIN French.


pault
pault's blurb: location: Xerta, Tarragona province, Catalunya
talks tech, eco stuff & politics

Offline Technopat

  • *
  • Full Shroomy
  • ******
  • Posts: 3020
« Reply #7 on: September 19, 2009, 21:27 PM »
Greetings pault et al.,

Wot! No circumflex?  :o
What in Darwin's name are they playing at up at Oxford? First they refuse to give Thatcher 'er honoris causa and now this... :speechless: S'pose they also write 'role'...

Nice bit of eagle-eyed blooper spotting there. Mindless stats. being what they are, the time had to come when Technopat slipped up - great bit of subconsciousness going on there in confusing the Sp. "ua" with the En. "au" - the kind of slip-up that makes proofreading so tricky challenging.* That's what one gets for relying on one's skills and not using spell checkers...

*Don't tell me that up at Oxford they say 'proof reading' :technodevil:

'Tis-but-the-beginning-of-the-end regs.,
Tehcnotap
Technopat's disclaimer: If this posting seems over the top and/or gets your goat (Sp. anyone?), please accept my apologies and don't take it personally - it's just my instinctive tendency to put my foot in it whenever/wherever possible. See also:
http://www.iberianatureforum.com/index.php/topic,266