Etymology

padraig (u.s.)

a monkey that will go ape
if you were to transcribe every sound you made during a conversation
why written dialogue so often rings stilted and/or false (assuming it's going for naturalism)

i.e. how stream of consciousness - Joyce, Faulkner, etc - comes much closer to the actual conjunction of thought process and conversing
 

padraig (u.s.)

a monkey that will go ape
one of my personal irritants is how often people in written dialogue say each others' names

exposition dumps, OK, not ideal but sometimes inavoidable to some degree

but why do people who know each other say each other's name's all the time

do you ever repeatedly refer to someone you know by their name while to talking to them? who does that? why?
 

version

Who loves ya, baby?
DeLillo said he got a bunch of complaints about the dialogue in one of his novels being too stylized and he said it was funny because in that novel he'd literally just transcribed actual conversations he'd heard in public.
 

version

Who loves ya, baby?
DeLillo said he got a bunch of complaints about the dialogue in one of his novels being too stylized and he said it was funny because in that novel he'd made a point of listening to lots of actual conversations he'd heard in public.
'The interesting thing about trying to set down dialogue realistically,'' he says, ''is that if you get it right it sounds stylized. Why is it so difficult to see clearly and to hear clearly? I don't know. But it is, and in 'Players' I listened very carefully to people around me. People in buses. People in the street. And in many parts of the book I used sentences that I heard literally, word for word. Yet it didn't sound as realistic as one might expect. It sounded over-refined even.''
 

version

Who loves ya, baby?
This on Gaddis is on point,

"The main difficulty of Gaddis's novels is that they are almost entirely composed of dialogue; they attempt to represent real speech in all its fragmentary pathos, stupidity, and glory. These conversations are stunningly mimetic, often approaching the feel of transcribed sound recording. This makes Gaddis hard to read, particularly since most of his dialogue is unattributed. In the most extreme cases, the reader is left to ferret out the speaker's identity, and the possibility of following the action of the plot depends on one's attentiveness in listening to people talk. As Moore notes, speech, rendered accurately, is hard to understand. People do not always (or even often) speak grammatically. They make mistakes of diction and change their sentence structure midway through statements. Speech, in Gaddis, is lazy and sloppy, as poorly constructed as the blueprints for worldly success that his characters are tracing out. The astonishing thing is that we spend so much of our time talking, and do it so badly. But it did not seem astonishing until Gaddis made it the center of his art, and that is part of what remains astonishing about Gaddis."
 

jenks

thread death
I do a lot of work on real speech in one of the courses I teach - good honest transcription work complete with all the various non-fluency features, intonation, overlapping speech etc is really tough to do - even theatrical work which claims verisimilitude (Pinter's pauses or whatever) is still miles away from 'real speech'

This whole thread is essentially part of my day job - etymology - word knowledge and word history are making up bigger chunks of my teaching as the research suggests (although not all agree) that explicit teaching of academic language is one of the ways to improve student's chances of success.
 

poetix

we murder to dissect
Porcelain was introduced to Europe by Marco Polo, and ever since has been the first choice for the best crockery. When you sip your tea and eat your cucumber sandwiches at Buckingham Palace, or in the Rose Garden of the White House, you’d expect only the best porcelain to be used. It’s a posh word for the finest china, and hardly the sort that you’d expect to have rather rude origins.

As several etymology and popular websites will tell you, the English word porcelain comes rather unimaginatively from the French porcelaine, which is also given to the cowrie shell. Marco Polo himself probably used the Italian word porcellana, with the same origin in the shell. It is proposed that early porcelain resembled cowrie shells in colour and finish, and that some of the early porcelain products were used by painters to put their colours in, something for which they had used cowrie shells.

The chain of origins there undergoes something of a hiatus. Look porcella up in a Latin dictionary, and you’ll find that it is a diminutive of porcula, and means a small sow.

Getting from a small sow to cowrie shells has been a stretch of the imagination, and most sites claim that the shells gained their name from the appearance of a small sow’s genitals. The Oxford English Dictionary is more honest, and simply states that “the ulterior etymology of It. porca, porcella is unsettled”.

The most likely link has nothing to do with pigs, as such, and everything to do with nursery slang. In his Rerum rusticarum (Agricultural Topics), the Roman scholar Marcus Terentius Varro (116-27 BCE) let slip that the Latin word porcus was commonly used by women, mainly in and around the nursery, as a slang term to refer to the pudenda of girls. Adams considers that the derivative porcellana was derived from that, and applied to shells such as the cowrie which have the appearance of a porcus.

An alternative name for the shells, given by Pliny, was veneria, which refers of course to the goddess Venus and other closely-related associations.

I can’t see artists and others who used cowrie shells making such an obscure reference to small sows, but using a slang term perhaps best translated as pussy seems far more credible.

Whatever you do, though, the next time that you sip tea daintily from a porcelain cup, and eat a cucumber sandwich from a porcelain plate, try not to remember the most probable origin of the word porcelain.
 

jenks

thread death
And then you get peculiar words like Penguin - whose etymology (one for @craner) seems so unlikely that debate still rages amongst academics
 

version

Who loves ya, baby?
The word "tragedy" appears to have been used to describe different phenomena at different times. It derives from Classical Greek τραγῳδία, contracted from trag(o)-aoidiā = "goat song", which comes from tragos = "he-goat" and aeidein = "to sing" (cf. "ode"). Scholars suspect this may be traced to a time when a goat was either the prize in a competition of choral dancing or was that around which a chorus danced prior to the animal's ritual sacrifice. In another view on the etymology, Athenaeus of Naucratis (2nd–3rd century CE) says that the original form of the word was trygodia from trygos (grape harvest) and ode (song), because those events were first introduced during grape harvest.
 

constant escape

winter withered, warm
The word "tragedy" appears to have been used to describe different phenomena at different times. It derives from Classical Greek τραγῳδία, contracted from trag(o)-aoidiā = "goat song", which comes from tragos = "he-goat" and aeidein = "to sing" (cf. "ode"). Scholars suspect this may be traced to a time when a goat was either the prize in a competition of choral dancing or was that around which a chorus danced prior to the animal's ritual sacrifice. In another view on the etymology, Athenaeus of Naucratis (2nd–3rd century CE) says that the original form of the word was trygodia from trygos (grape harvest) and ode (song), because those events were first introduced during grape harvest.
Thats a good one too. I wonder if there is any connection to Bacchus/Dionysus. Perhaps explored in Nietzsche's Birth of Tragedy, but I don't know.
 

constant escape

winter withered, warm
pathetic (adj.)
1590s, "affecting the emotions or affections, moving, stirring" (now obsolete in this broad sense), from Middle French pathétique "moving, stirring, affecting" (16c.), from Late Latin patheticus, from Greek pathetikos "subject to feeling, sensitive, capable of emotion," from pathetos "liable to suffer," verbal adjective of pathein "to suffer" (from PIE root *kwent(h)- "to suffer").

The specific meaning "arousing pity, sorrow, or grief" or other tender feelings is from 1737. The colloquial sense of "so miserable as to be ridiculous" is attested by 1937. Related: Pathetical (1570s); pathetically. The pathetic fallacy (1856, first used by Ruskin) is the attribution of human qualities to inanimate objects.
Another case of a colloquially disjointed pair of words. "Apathetic" doesn't seem opposed to the common sense of "pathetic" until we look at the etymology.
 

suspendedreason

Well-known member
You ever tried writing down a conversation as you overhear it? Looks completely bizarre as text.
This is what the field of Conversation Analysis does. It has a whole system of notating conversations, up to timing pauses, dictating people talking over each other. It's pretty cool; if you learn the notation, you can do it much more effective and much more legibly (for others who can read it) than e.g. anything like stream-of-consciousness writing
 

suspendedreason

Well-known member
This on Gaddis is on point,

"The main difficulty of Gaddis's novels is that they are almost entirely composed of dialogue; they attempt to represent real speech in all its fragmentary pathos, stupidity, and glory. These conversations are stunningly mimetic, often approaching the feel of transcribed sound recording. This makes Gaddis hard to read, particularly since most of his dialogue is unattributed. In the most extreme cases, the reader is left to ferret out the speaker's identity, and the possibility of following the action of the plot depends on one's attentiveness in listening to people talk. As Moore notes, speech, rendered accurately, is hard to understand. People do not always (or even often) speak grammatically. They make mistakes of diction and change their sentence structure midway through statements. Speech, in Gaddis, is lazy and sloppy, as poorly constructed as the blueprints for worldly success that his characters are tracing out. The astonishing thing is that we spend so much of our time talking, and do it so badly. But it did not seem astonishing until Gaddis made it the center of his art, and that is part of what remains astonishing about Gaddis."
"Moore" here has got to be Steven Moore, he's one of the foremost Gaddis scholars. He has an incredible book on the deep history of fiction that overwrites the standard English Dept. history in a really stunning way.
 

version

Who loves ya, baby?
"Moore" here has got to be Steven Moore, he's one of the foremost Gaddis scholars. He has an incredible book on the deep history of fiction that overwrites the standard English Dept. history in a really stunning way.
It is. The old Gaddis resource site's still up too with some of his books online, e.g. his Recognitions annotations. That quote's from a J. M. Tyree piece on Gaddis and Thoreau hosted on the same site,
 
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