IN HER MIDST.

Once again, I find what looks like a simple error in the New Yorker—and in a piece that’s not very well written anyway, Ariel Levy’s “Lesbian Nation” (subscribers only)—but as before, I wonder whether it might be a nonstandard usage that’s bubbling up from below. So here’s the sentence: “The feminist Ti-Grace Atkinson went so far as to claim that her brand of celibate ‘political lesbianism’ was morally superior to the sexually active version practiced in her midst.”
I think we can take it for granted that most people’s reaction will be to wonder what on earth is going on inside that woman, but I’m wondering whether there are English speakers for whom “in (one’s) midst” is an even marginally acceptable substitute for “in (one’s) milieu” (which is the phrase I would have substituted).

Comments

  1. I consider myself a relatively educated person, I think my verbal/spelling/grammar skills are at least above average (considering some phrases I hear people at my workplace use, that may not be saying much), but I can say that I have never heard the phrase “in one’s millieu” before, and I thought that “in her midst” could mean “all around her”.

  2. I – of course – do think it sounds very dirty. Certainly in the context of lesbianism.
    That is not to say that I don’t approve. Oh dear, not at all.

  3. SnowLeopard says:

    I see things to dislike about “in her midst” but suspect I’ve seen or heard it enough to be getting used to it. I would not choose “in her milieu” for a variety of reasons, including difficulty of pronunciation and comprehensibility to my audience. Though it feels imprecise, I would probably opt for “around her.”

  4. “Up her yinyang” would certainly be inappropriate.

  5. “Up her yinyang” would certainly be inappropriate.

  6. See, once again I’m behind the curve—obviously it is becoming acceptable. And SnowLeopard, you’re right, “around her” would be better; I was lazily reaching for a phrase of the same structure.

  7. A.J.P. Crown says:

    I think my daughter really enjoyed The Big Lebowski, Pete. I didn’t ask, it was past her bedtime, but she certainly laughed a lot. It’s eleven years old.

  8. A.J.P. Crown says:

    When I google it, I get three quarters of a million for “in her midst” of which Language’s use is number one, but I also quite liked ‘Gorillas in Her Midst’, which is number two, it must be about Jane Goodall.

  9. A.J.P. Crown says:

    It’s the movie that’s eleven, I stopped calling my daughter ‘it’ after she was born.

  10. You all got her wrong. She’s saying that her celibate, political brain is a better lesbian than her sexually active, uh, midst. I know many people like that, not all of them lesbians.

  11. Four years ago, the male-male variant: http://www.languagehat.com/archives/002111.php

  12. “In her midst,” meaning “all around her?” weird. Never heard or read it before, that I’m aware of. It’s an understandable and rather charming semantic slide, though, of the sort that makes Safirites apoplectic, so I’m all for it.
    I guess I’m more tolerant of these sorts of politico-sexual positionings than most of your readers. All the commonly accepted ones, including my own, strike me as equally bizarre and artificial :-)

  13. I am pro-celibacy, as an option, and might well agree with Ti-Grace. I’m just now buying a book about the superiority of Aspergies.

  14. I am pro-celibacy, as an option, and might well agree with Ti-Grace. I’m just now buying a book about the superiority of Aspergies.

  15. Four years ago, the male-male variant: http://www.languagehat.com/archives/002111.php
    Oh, for god’s sake. I truly am getting senile. However, it does seem to have increased in acceptability since then. Here‘s the direct link to my earlier query about the exact same thing.

  16. marie-lucie says:

    Years ago, a male friend of mine once went on a blind date. Afterwards he reported: “She was quite nice, but she used expressions like on my existential periphery“. There were no more dates.

  17. I heard the dissonance in the phrase right away, but I had no problem interpreting it to mean “among her associates”. It’s just very awkwardly phrased. She’s really in its midst, not the other way around. Since I wasn’t reading LH four years ago, I don’t mind reading about it at all, but I would agree with the comment made back then that it’s a construction that belongs with plurals.
    “milieu”? French I believe. Something to do with millinery. You know, hats.

  18. My one and only blind date was with a mortuary science student from the University of Minnesota. Completely cured me for all time.

  19. I probably should have tacked a smiley onto that “milieu” remark. Before anyone starts pulling out OED’s and stuff, here is: ;~)

  20. As far as I’m concerned, it seems to be a misinterpretation of “in the midst of”. ‘Midst’, to me, is archaic/fixed to that usage.
    Eg. A plausible interpretation-
    “In the midst of the chaos…”
    meaning
    “In the temporal/social/physicial context of the chaos…”
    ‘Midst’ then is added to the lexicon as ‘context’.

  21. Certainly I would reword if [a]midst occurred in a phrase like the midst of X [singular], unless X is obviously composed of entities with which I would comfortably use such propositions as among and between:

    A murmur arose in the midst of the crowd.

    Or X would need to be a “continuous” entity that is markedly extended in space or time, so that component countable entities, like the waves or life-episodes implicit in these two examples, are there in latency:

    In the midst of the surging Adriatic they struggled on.
    Amidst a life so sad there were still mornings of bliss and consolation.

    So not, I think:

    Through the midst of the featureless plain they made their way.
    Amidst her coma there were episodes of awareness.

    As for milieu, I won’t have it!

  22. Off topic, but right now there’s a very annoying Google Ads box that is covering up part of the blog, and which prevents me from even opening this comments thread at my normal browser window size.

  23. Lazar, refresh your screen and it will go away.

  24. Siganus Sutor says:

    As for milieu, I won’t have it!
    Mitan then?

  25. Siganus Sutor says:

    [...] her brand of celibate ‘political lesbianism’ was morally superior to the sexually active version [...]
    to wonder what on earth is going on inside that woman
    Franchement, Hat!
    And then “in (one’s) milieu”
    Doesn’t your wife have an eye on languagehat.com every now and then?

  26. @Nijma: No, that doesn’t work for me. The only way I can get to this comments thread is to go through the archives, or to squeeze the browser window so it’s about one inch wide.

  27. Lazar, what I thought you were referring to is that once in a blue moon the google ads will appear on the left side of the blog and obscure the posts. As soon as you open another page or click refresh it resolves itself. You can also get to the comments by clicking on “Recently Commented On” or “Recent Entries”.
    I just peeked at the site with both IE and Safari–I usually use Firefox–and I don’t see whatever it is you’re seeing.

  28. I’ve noticed a lot of errors in the NYer over the past year or so. Shocking, really.

  29. A.J.P. Old Fart says:

    I got over the shock years ago. The New Yorker has been crap, living off its reputation, ever since the Newhouse family bought it and fired Wm Shawn. It does get worse and worse, but who cares any more?

  30. michael farris says:

    “in her midst” sounds like something a smart but under-educated person might say to try to sound like they had more formal education than they did.
    Why don’t we have a nice single word adjective for that?
    And I don’t understand all this hating on ‘milieu’ which I’ve always thought of as a common enough word. There is a pronunciation problem and I find I have two, a pseudo-French one with a final rounded [e] and one with final /ow/

  31. A.J.P. Clou says:

    It’s quite simple to pronounce in English, it’s mealy-yer (non-rhotic, obviously). In Norwegian, it’s the word used for environment or environmental, so it’s more common than it is in English.
    I don’t find anything odd with ‘in the midst’ (as I said there are three quarters of a million citations if you google ‘in her midst’) it just means ‘in the middle of’.

  32. Noetica says:

    And I don’t understand all this hating on ‘milieu’
    To hate on? What is that? A dynamisation of the stative verb to hate? Never heard in Australia. In OED, there is on only with hate as a noun (and who of us has heard this usage?):

    “hate n.1″ 1. … d. Phr. to have a hate on or against (a person) (see quot. 1941).
    … 1966 ‘S. Woods’ Let’s choose Executors 62 Things have been perfectly horrid, ever since Mark started to have a hate against her. Ibid. 220 She seemed to have a complete hate on him.

    To hate on is not in W3 or M-W Collegiate.
    I won’t have milieu for midst, but I like and use it otherwise:

    This was his preferred milieu, where he was truly appreciated.

    That’s the opposite of midst, isn’t it? One is, perhaps, in the midst of one’s milieu.
    Mitan, Sigmaticus? Expand, please.

  33. michael farris says:

    But American doesn’t have the vowel that appears in (roughly) RP lurk (nb different than the vowel in than luck for most speakers despite what some dictionaries say).
    It does have the stressed syllablic r vowel (as in American lurk) but it seems wrong in milieu with no orthographic r. It also has a stressed schwa (as in luck) can’t normally occur word finally. The vowel in look would be a close enough match but it can’t occur word finally either….
    I can’t find backup for my oh pronunciation but it seems more natural than any of the other available options.

  34. A.J.P. Klo says:

    Never heard in Australia.
    Don’t be so sure. It’s a popular form at the moment.

  35. michael farris says:

    “To hate on? What is that?”
    Another American barbarism? I think it’s most likely African American in origin and means (in my understanding). “to publicly direct active dislike/disrespect toward someone/something”.
    IINM hat had a thread about it recently. I find it useful and it’s become part of my written informal register.

  36. marie-lucie says:

    Noetica: le mitan is another word for le milieu in the concrete “centre, midst” meaning (not the social one). I always thought it came from Occitan as it was a word my mother used, but not my father or other people where we lived, but according to the Petit Robert it comes from an Eastern French dialect.
    “in my midst”: this was news to me as well. As an equivalent for midst in the context of the quotation I would probably use “social circle”. In French, if I spoke about mon milieu I would mean the one I grew up in, but I would prefer to use ma famille. The word milieu in a social sense usually means “social class”, as in the common saying Nous ne sommes pas du même milieu “we are not the same class” (said looking down one’s nose).

  37. mollymooly says:

    The OED entry for midst was revised in Dec 2008 and does not record this novel sense.
    The earliest cite I found on Google books for “my midst” in the novel sense is from 1884, in The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, p.77 snippet view: “I shall resist the enemy’s entrance into East Tennessee with all the means at my disposal, but with the people in my midst enlisted against me [...]”
    “In (our etc) midst” was itself condemned as a vulgar novelty in 1863. OED dates it to 1794.

  38. dearieme says:

    Nijma is right: she is in their midst, not versa vice.
    And as for “As for milieu, I won’t have it!”: pah, the medical profession views us all as having a ‘milieu interieur’ and that’s that.

  39. I’m sorry to say it, but “in her milieu” strikes me as very pretentious. I can’t imagine someone saying that aloud unless they meant it ironically, pronouncing “milieu” with an exaggerated French accent. I also read “in her midst” without giving it a second thought – I think it’s been acceptable for a while, but I don’t like it. What’s wrong with “in her social circle?” or just “her group”?

  40. “To hate on? What is that?”
    There was a thread here a while back too. To say “I don’t understand all this hating on ‘milieu’” just doesn’t sound right, as if someone is trying to speak black without being black. you have to say something more like “why yall be hatin on milieu” or “don’t be hating on milieu”. It’s used by black adolescent girls to express liking for a fad: “don’t be hating on my Tweety bird, he’s so cuuuuute.” In all cases where the speaker is admonishing someone to “not be hating on” Tweety, no one has expressed any negative sentiments at all towards the bird.

  41. Nijma, it’s already spread beyond the circle in which it originated. To my mind, a white person saying something like “why yall be hatin on…” would sound stupid. I think it’s a useful expression and I welcome its entry into the common colloquial vocabulary.

  42. Artifex Amando says:

    marie-lucie: Does the Petit Robert say anything about Germanic origin?
    I ask because in Swedish, we have the word “mitten”, as in the poetic name “Mittens Rike” (The State of the Middle) for China.

  43. A.J.P. Crone says:

    That would be the Middle Kingdom, på engelsk.
    So, if it’s spread to a white milieu, is that the ‘semantic bleaching’ that Marie-Lucie mentioned? (Excuse the unintended pun).

  44. parvomagnus says:

    “in (sombody’s) midst” to mean “around” wouldn’t have seemed odd to me if it hadn’t been pointed out. Its use with plural pronouns leads to easy analogy with singular pronouns.
    My guess is that the new meaning – “around” rather than “in the middle of” – was self-selecting, since “in the middle of” is nonsensical for one person, and “around” closer to the original than “inside”. The main question would be whether Ariel Levy, and other writers who use the newer meaning, also use “in (plural’s) midst” the original way, or have in fact reinterpreted the phrase entirely.

  45. Artifex Amando says:

    Ah, Kingdom. I didn’t know which word to use, only that I shouldn’t use “Reich”, of course.
    As a philolesbian, I mildly hate on the New Yorker for not letting me read the whole piece gratis.

  46. What’s wrong with “in her social circle?” or just “her group”?
    Because the whole sentence would have to get rewritten and it would sound even more awkward than “in her midst”.

    “The feminist Ti-Grace Atkinson went so far as to claim that her brand of celibate ‘political lesbianism’ was morally superior to the sexually active version practiced in her midst.”

    From googling her last night, what little I could find out about her seems to indicate she herself was lesbian (but I’m not sure about this, since she was also married) while there was a huge group that was openly gay (not sure if “gay” is still pc) and another group that was not gay but found men unbearable. But maybe you had to be a nominal lesbian in those days in order to be accepted after the Betty Friedan/Gloria Steinem split or maybe there was just a large group who hadn’t come out but no one knew what they were. So it’s not necessarily “her” group or “her” social circle. They’re political bedfellows is all. So you would end up with a sentence construction like “The feminist Ti-Grace Atkinson went so far as to claim that her brand of celibate ‘political lesbianism’ was morally superior to the sexually active version in the midst of which she was and was practiced.” Gad I can’t think to compose the sentence any better than that. The new tenants upstairs are blasting mariachi music and they refuse to answer the door.

  47. I wish I had goats instead.

  48. marie-lucie says:

    AA: (le mitan) Does the Petit Robert say anything about Germanic origin?
    No, but the Trésor de la langue française informatisé which does discuss word origins in detail says the origin is uncertain. However, all of the discussion centers on a Latin origin. The word is not from the area of Germanic dialects but an area (Bourgogne and Franche-Comté) closer to Switzerland (the French-speaking part). I don’t have any information or expertise to add to what the TLFI says.

  49. OK, what about just “practiced around her.”

  50. Siganus Sutor says:

    > Artifex Amando & Marie-Lucie
    Mitan doesn’t appear in Dauzat’s etymological dictionary. It seems to be an out-of-fashion word that I remembered only because I had a correspondent who used it regularly. I think he discovered this (rare) word and decided it would be good to put it in what he wrote. Had I seen it somewhere in a Martian context, I would have thought straightaway that there was some Umar around.
    in Swedish, we have the word “mitten”
    Well, I suppose it’s linked to the rather well-known expression “Mitteleuropa”, isn’t it?

  51. “practiced in the midst of which she found herself”?
    “around her” works.
    They should proofread, how can an awkward construction like that stay in? But then I suppose they wouldn’t have enough time to pay the bills.
    But maybe it’s just my own regional language prejudices–I seem to have the same ones as Hat and to some extent Emerson.

  52. marie-lucie says:

    Swedish mitten = German Mittel= English middle
    German mitt- = English mid-
    German Mittwoch “Wednesday” (= literally English “midweek”, if you start with Sunday)

  53. Artifex Amando says:

    m-l: Okay, thank you for looking it up!
    Siganus Sutor: Yes, the two words are linked.
    If ever I get into theoretical studies again – as opposed to my artistic studies which will commence this fall, I hope – it will certainly be a mix of linguistics and tribadology.

  54. Siganus Sutor says:

    But this one doesn’t have a Germanic origin I believe: the “poteau-mitan”/”potomitan”.
    http://www.potomitan.info/penteng/potomitan.php

  55. Mitan: The Mitanni were related to the Hurrians and Hittites, if that helps. (No, they weren’t. It was the Elamites who were Dravidians.)

  56. Mitan: The Mitanni were related to the Hurrians and Hittites, if that helps. (No, they weren’t. It was the Elamites who were Dravidians.)

  57. @Nijma: I use Camino.

  58. And there’s also the famous “troisième mitan” that makes some people speak in (thick) tongues.

  59. marie-lucie says:

    Siganus: But this one doesn’t have a Germanic origin I believe: the “poteau-mitan”/”potomitan”.
    This is very interesting. Since the poteau is in the middle, it is very likely that mitan is the same word which means milieu. In this case the word must have had a wider distribution than just the dialects where it is first attested, although remaining in the langue populaire, never being adopted as standard. (For instance, my mother used the word frequently but her family had no links with those areas, her parents being from the same little Occitan village).

  60. Siganus Sutor says:

    Marie-Lucie, was your mother the central pillar of the family? That’s what potomitan can also mean in the French Caribbean, i.e. women around whom the family revolves. It looks as if mitan crossed the Atlantic, up to the side of the world.
    BTW, I forgot to include the URL in the “troisième mitan” link.

  61. Siganus Sutor says:

    Some poets seem to love the expression “au mitan de“. They often are from a bourgeois milieu, i.e. the middle class of society.

  62. A French phrase I love is au fur et a mesure. I’ve only seen it in a few scholarly authors, but the ones who use it seem to use it fairly often. It seems vaguely pretentious and archaic in a sort of pleasingly fussy way, though how would I know.

  63. A French phrase I love is au fur et a mesure. I’ve only seen it in a few scholarly authors, but the ones who use it seem to use it fairly often. It seems vaguely pretentious and archaic in a sort of pleasingly fussy way, though how would I know.

  64. marie-lucie says:

    Could be, but it could be an affectation of populism on their part. It does sound a little archaic to me.

  65. marie-lucie says:

    JE: au fur et à mesure (que) … : “as (time goes on and) …”
    Nobody knows what au fur means, but the whole expression is perfectly normal for me and not at all restricted to “scholarly authors”. Many people (such as myself unless I watch my speech carefully) omit the et and it sounds like au fur à mesure. You can also omit the au fur part and just say or write à mesure que … which to me is a little more literary. Here the que has to be included, followed by a sentence, but au fur et à mesure can stand on its own, like an adverb.
    Examples:
    À mesure que je vieillis, le temps passe de plus en plus vite. “As I get older, time is going faster and faster”.
    Viens m’aider à faire la vaisselle. Je vais laver, et tu essuieras au fur et à mesure. “Come and help me with the dishes. I’ll wash and you’ll wipe as [I] go on.”

  66. marie-lucie says:

    Could be, but it could be an affectation of populism on their part. It does sound a little archaic to me.
    This was in reply to Siganus, not John Emerson.

  67. A.J.P. Cone says:

    “troisième mitan”
    I did a golf-themed bar on a cruise ship, called “The 19th Hole”, and that’s the same idea (there being 18 holes played in a round of golf). Of course being a cruise ship this was mini golf.

  68. scarabaeus says:

    In her midst [of gnu] her mileau [thing] was to eat grass.

  69. It was the “au fur” part that got me. The other half made perfect sense, but the redundant and meaningless two extra words had a special je-ne-sais-quois [American English idion].

  70. It was the “au fur” part that got me. The other half made perfect sense, but the redundant and meaningless two extra words had a special je-ne-sais-quois [American English idion].

  71. A.J.P. Cop says:

    American English idion
    They’re called Native Americans these days, Pete.

  72. Off-topic: Hat, at A Journey Round my Skull there are some illustrated poems for melting children by Mandelshtam. Perhaps you can favor us with a bit of translation?

  73. They’re from his kid’s book Primus. The first goes:
    “I’m raw and uneducated,
    it’s easy for me to become yogurt,”
    said the raw milk
    to the boiled.
    But the boiled
    answers tenderly,
    “I’m no mollycoddle,
    I have skin!”
    (You can see the boiled milk holding out a swatch of skin on the left; the jar on the right is surrounded by little containers marked “yogurt.”)
    The second goes:
    How I love laundry!
    I’m friends with the white shirt;
    as soon as I look at it,
    I iron, I press, I glide!
    [Iron:] “If only you knew how much
    it hurts me to stand in the fire!”

  74. marie-lucie says:

    JE: It was the “au fur” part that got me. I see that, but with au fur it is more colloquial than without.
    Another similar word is le for, used only in (someone’s) for intérieur “(one’s) innermost recesses/thoughts, as in Je n’ai rien dit, mais dans mon for intérieur j’ai pensé … This expression is less colloquial than the previous one.
    Both fur and for are listed in the Trésor de la language française informatisé as masculine nouns but without a definition.

  75. marie-lucie says:

    la language française
    What a horrible mistake! of course I mean la langue française, but I write so much more in English (and about language) that my fingers tend to type the English word automatically.

  76. Je n’ai rien dit, mais dans mon for intérieur j’ai pensé
    Ah, this echoes Latin in foro interno. See OED, at “forum, n.“:

    2 … b. transf. and fig. (Cf. med.L. in foro interno, in foro conscientiæ).
    1690 Case Univ. Oxford 48 A right to be impleaded in their own Forum only. 1756 Burke Subl. & B. v. v, Of this, at first view, every man, in his own forum, ought to judge without appeal. 1852 Gladstone Glean. (1879) IV. xiv. 151 In every country of Europe, except one, when excusable collision arises between the civil and the religious power it must be in the external forum. 1874 Morley Compromise (1886) 147 It is truth that in the forum of conscience claims an undivided allegiance.

    Odd, when you remember the common root (PIE dhwer, to take it right back) of [de]hors along with its Romance cognates meaning “outside”, and forum: in foro interno is like “in the interior exterior”.
    French fur or for (and Greimas supplies also fuer, fuor, feur, and fer) is recorded first in 1160 – according to both TLFi and Greimas, but citing quite different sources.
    TLFi also lists a separate noun for (from Latin forum, and meaning “court of justice” or derivatives), and does not associate it with our fur except to give fur as a variant spelling of for. TLFi derives our fur also from forum, but in the sense of “marketplace”.
    Greimas (in two dictionaries: ancien and moyen français) treats all senses under one head. He allows that fur may mean “cour de justice”, but also “marché” or “prix”, and “privilège”. Au fur de or au fur que means “au prix que”, “à proportion de”, or “à mesure que”. Forage is “action de fixer le prix d’une marchandise”, or “droit sur la vente des boissons”.
    We can make the necessary semantic links, can’t we? Mesure, weight, “correct weight”, due proportion, in good and fair order, at a proper rate.
    Perhaps throwing some light on the connotations, just yesterday the old verb amesurer came up in a query from a colleague who is translating Christine de Pizan’s Mutacion de Fortune. This verb occurs in two entries in TLFi, but is nowhere explained. Nor does it turn up in Petit Robert. Greimas has it only in his AF: “mesurer”; “estimer, apprécier”; “restreindre, modérer”; and for amesurable, “mesuré, modéré”.

  77. marie-lucie says:

    Noetica, thank you for all this additional information. I looked up the words in TLFI and they were listed but there were no explanations at all, unlike for other words I have looked up. What did you do that I didn’t?
    (son) for intérieur then must be the place where one opens up one’s own little private court of justice in order to examine and debate things pertaining to oneself. I thought it just meant one’s innermost self, the innermost recesses of one’s heart, something like that, but the legal or judiciary connotation is quite interesting.

  78. Noetica says:

    What did you do that I didn’t?
    I’m not sure what you didn’t do, Marie-Lucie. I looked in the entry “FOR, subst. masc.”, which is the “tribunal” word, and found this:

    On emploie aussi for externe et for interne.

    And later in the entry:

    Étymol. et Hist. A. 1. 1611 for « cour de justice » (COTGR.); 2. 1635 for de consciance, for interieur, for exterieur …

    The other fur, the one in au fur et à mesure, is at “FUR, subst. masc. et élém. de loc.”
    I hope that helps! I use the CDROM version, by the way: except when I need to track down the citations, which the online version permits.

  79. dearieme says:

    Vanya, in Brenglish it would be “practised around her.” Mind you, in Brenglish “milieu” doesn’t sound affected because of the tenuous survival of the notion that everyone educated has some school French.

  80. A.J.P. Cork says:

    But, Dearie, you oughtn’t to have to apologise for having learnt French at school. It’s a good thing.

  81. Let’s not jump to conclusions about Krum’s French. Granted, in most cases language-lerning is a good thing, but we should go case by case.
    “How to learn Swedish…. is not really about language-learning, but there’s a new post up about one of their wonderful prinsessen.

  82. Let’s not jump to conclusions about Krum’s French. Granted, in most cases language-lerning is a good thing, but we should go case by case.
    “How to learn Swedish…. is not really about language-learning, but there’s a new post up about one of their wonderful prinsessen.

  83. A.J. P. Crumpet says:

    The Swedish boyfriend’s name is ‘Daniel Westling’ , but I kept thinking the slide captions said ‘Princess Victoria and Daniel Wrestling‘, which got me overexcited.

  84. marie-lucie says:

    Noetica: Thank you.
    What you did do that I did not was to use the CD-Rom, with which I am not familiar. I went online, which, from your comments, does not contain the same information. It looks like a person who is seriously into the history of French needs to access both.

  85. marie-lucie, I’m confused. I just went to TLFI online and found quite a full history:
    Étymol. et Hist. 1. Ca 1160 fig. a nul fuer « à aucun prix, en aucune façon » (Eneas, éd. J.-J. Salverda de Grave, 9153); 1160-74 fuer « prix, taux » (WACE, Rou, éd. A.-J. Holden, III, 2150); XIVe s. fur (Lois et coutumes de la ville de Marchiennes, Arch. mun. Lille BBI, 2777 ds GDF.) répertorié par la lexicogr. comme mot indépendant jusqu’au XVIIIe s. : cf. Trév. 1704-71, s.v. feurre; attesté surtout dans les loc. al fuer de « au prix de, au taux de » 1160-74 WACE, Rou, III, 2174 XVIIIe s. : 1762 POTHIER, Contrat de vente, no 378 ds GDF. et DG, au fuer que « au prix que » (Vair Palefroy ds BARBAZAN et MÉON, Recueil de fabliaux, t. 1, p. 165), d’où 2. ca 1306 au feur que « à mesure que, de la façon que » (G. GUIART, Royaux Lignages, éd. Wailly et Delisle, 14769); 2e moitié XIVe s. au fuer « à proportion » (Chron. de S.-Den., Richel. 2813, fo 430b ds GDF.); 1561 au fur (PILLOT, Gall. ling. inst., p. 240, ibid.); 1606 au feur de « en proportion de » (NICOT); 1611 au fur de (COTGR.); 1690 au fur et à mesure que (FUR.). Fur développement particulier de la forme plus anc. fuer, feur, issue du lat. class. forum « place publique, marché », d’où « opérations qui se font au marché », attesté en lat. médiév. au sens de « prix » (744 ds NIERM.). Le renforcement de la loc. au fur par à mesure s’est fait, lorsque, le mot fur, n’étant plus compris, on a senti le besoin d’en préciser le sens par une loc.

  86. marie-lucie says:

    LH, thank you, but I am thoroughly confused. Perhaps I don’t understand the inner workings of TLFI? It isn’t something I consult that often, but on other recent occasions I have seen page-length information and quotations, and this time there was nothing on either word except the grammatical identification. Or was there a page break that I did not notice?

  87. I don’t know. Whenever I’ve consulted it, I’ve found copious information, and I’ve never encountered a page break.

  88. Artifex Amando says:

    The only persons I find myself willing to be ruled over by are the Kallur sisters. They would make such a great royal couple, both nationally and internationally, I think.
    But I will continue to be an antimonarchist (republikan, in Swedish), as the above scenario will never happen. In reality. What happens in my short stories is a completely different matter.
    John Emerson: Thank you for reminding me of that blog!

  89. marie-lucie, I just discovered the TLFI through your mentioning it. I have no problem with accessing the fur article either. Since I am not once to shrink from asking questions no one else dares to ask (it’s what I get paid for): you are using http://atilf.atilf.fr/tlf.htm ?
    Hat, thanks for the Mandelshtam translation!

  90. A.J. P. Goat says:

    The Queen of England works so hard.
    Old bat.

  91. Since I am not one … If you have a slow connection, and the TLFI server is (occasionally, and very) slow, it may take a long time for things to appear, say 5 to 10 minutes. I experienced something similar with TLFI this morning on the train to Frankfurt. Although I have a highspeed UMTS connection from my laptop, there are long stretches on the run-up to Frankfurt where there is almost no signal, so the “high speed” stuff is worthless there.

  92. marie-lucie says:

    LH, Noetica, Grumbly, thank you all. I just google TLFi and the site comes up, but I think I was using the wrong point of entry by typing in the relevant word(s). I tried the other one (the rolling display) just now for those words and it worked, but what I don’t understand is why the first one worked the other times (displayed all the information) except when I asked about those two words. I will stick to the other method from now on.

  93. I looked up the words in TLFI and they were listed … I think I was using the wrong point of entry by typing in the relevant word(s). I tried the other one (the rolling display) just now for those words and it worked … the first one worked the other times (displayed all the information) except when I asked about those two words

    If it’s not too much trouble, marie-lucie, what exactly did you do when you “typed in the relevant word” before? Did you use 1) Tapez le mot ? If you enter more than one word in 1), for instance “au fur et à mesure”, you get only this:

    au fur et a mesure n’a pas été trouvé dans une entrée du TLF.
    Le logiciel a donc décidé d’activer son correcteur d’erreurs pour rechercher au fur et a mesure et les mots apparentés dans tout le texte du TLF.
    au fur et a mesure n’a été trouvé nulle part dans le TLF.
    Cependant, le logiciel a trouvé des mots apparentés.

    There may be other people having problems with TLFI. I initially had trouble figuring out how to work it. The site is written using very primitive technical means, i.e. javascript, which causes all kinds of problems on different browsers. You should always use the latest Firefox or Internet Explorer 6 version if you use one of those, of the latest version of any other one. Could it be you’re not using either Firefox or IE?

  94. It’s a pity the TLFi site is so technically out-of-date. I bet it’s run by wonderful, intimidatingly literate, aged philologists whose lives are dedicated to French, but who work themselves to the bones to keep the site working with glue and rubber-bands. It makes me want to ride in on my white steed, send them off to Tahiti for a month’s vacation, and riverrun the stables.

  95. marie-lucie says:

    Grumbly, I first tried typing the whole phrase, and later I typed just fur or for, with disappointing results (no comments at all, just the words). I am using Safari, the default browser on a Mac, which usually works (I am not trying anything fancy). But now that I tried finding (not typing) a word I will just do so in the future.

  96. I am using Safari, the default browser on a Mac

    Je m’en doutais bien. Well, as long as you now know what to do, you’re OK. The small amount of “Aide” that is offered gives absolutely no indication that the programmers are aware there are different browsers on the market. Users need help text in this respect. Another implication of the multiple browser issue is that one should use as little javascript as possible. And a more sophisticated “search” would also be in order.

  97. David Marjanović says:

    Safari: Yep, there’s lots of stuff that Safari just can’t do.
    Milieu: Common in German, probably for the same reason as in Norwegian — it can be pronounced.
    Au fur et à mesure: Still alive and well.
    For intérieur: Completely news to me.
    Swedish mitten: What the vertical gene transfer is the High German consonant shift doing in there!?! Why isn’t it midden?
    Still laughing at “semantic bleaching”. :-D

  98. David Marjanović says:

    Oh, and hating on is all over the blogosphere.

  99. “Hating on” may be all over the blogosphere, but I think of it as an AA marker (but not in the OED sense that Noetica quotes–that’s a different usage). I would never use it myself, any more than my mother would use “groovy”.

  100. Noetica says:

    Nij, what is an “AA marker”? Is AA marker an AA marker?

  101. African American, a more politically correct term for “black”. A way of identifying yourself to others without coming right out and saying what ethnic group you are where no one can see you, like on the telephone and in writing.

  102. marie-lucie says:

    David: Still laughing at “semantic bleaching”.
    Why? I did not invent it. Just as bleaching or just repeated washings and exposure to light bleach the original colour off a garment (blue jeans are typical), overuse of a word or phrase can “bleach” the meaning out of it.

  103. Is “semantic”, in “semantic bleaching”, subiectivus or objectivus? I sometimes think the very notion of semantics has had the meaning bleached out of it. The smart set among computer scientists uses “semantic” in any context where “syntactic” won’t work. Syntax is taken to be independently definable, semantics is all the rest, whatever that may be.
    Something (the universe of discourse?? LOL) is split down the middle by this distinction. Of course, that’s what distinctions are for – but then there are other useful distinctions, for instance intelligible and unintelligible. They are useful precisely because they are currently so neglected, i.e. under-overused. Why are they neglected? To a large extent because, I suspect many people would say, the distinction is “subjective” and imprecise. And yet we are guided by it all the time, I claim. You are now reading a comment which may seem to be intelligible, so you may conclude that Grumbly is one clever dude – or you make think it is unintelligible, and go off to do something more worthwhile.
    Of what distinction is “language” the one side? What is the other side? In another LH thread, I droned a bit in opposition to vanya’s idea that German is more verbose than English, and to David M’s “confirmation” that German words are longer than English words. Apparently I bored the pants off everyone except JJ, who only bothered to comment “who cares??”. I agree with him completely, of course, but I was saving a (not very original, I grant you) punch line that I couldn’t deploy because nobody took me up.
    The line is that “a language” or “the German language” is a notion of extreme vagueness, with which you can’t get very far in understanding what’s happening when people talk with each other. I wouldn’t even dignify the notion of “language” with the title of “abstraction”. There are so many different speech registers, vocabularies, translators and so on, that I wanted to ask what an idea like “this language is more verbose than that one” could possibly be good for. I claim that it is unintelligible, i.e. I don’t understand it. It’s but a small step then to the expectation that you, gentle reader, if you think it intelligible, should show how this could be.
    The advantage of the distinction intelligible/unintelligible is that it initially can be applied to anything, including this comment. It is conducive to argument, but also to ignoration – either you counter it, or you ignore it. The distinction between syntax and meaning is by now impossible to ignore. It is such an old bone of contention that it falls apart when you try to extract it from its archaeological resting place, the dinosaur cemetery. The problem with “language” is that it is not part of any distinction at all.

  104. So Nij, AA marker is an “AA-meta-savviness marker”? Good. I understand now.

  105. What?
    Noetica, I’m just saying it’s like a code, to discover if the other person is from your tribe. Like the example of the guy at the embassy I mentioned earlier where I talked to the guy on the phone, and suddenly he starts talking in some dialect or something. Obviously it was a code and I didn’t have the countersign. I think he was trying to find out if I was black or southern or both, for what purpose I don’t know. There are all kinds of codes, specialty language for religion, illicit drugs, racial attitudes, if you are one of the tribe, whatever it is, you will respond with the right lingo that you could only have learned by being an insider.
    I’m not going to start using “hated on” because I don’t want to be identified as a black adolescent girl with a Tweety fetish (shh, don’t tell) who is convinced that complete strangers who have never expressed any interest whatsoever in the cartoon character suddenly have malevolent intentions. It’s just weird. Anyhow I wouldn’t be able to get the syntax right and would probably look foolish.

  106. ‘In her midst” is perfectly acceptable and in common use where I come from, the American Midwest, and I never ran into any trouble or confusion using this word during the 6 years I lived on the east coast. The meaning and context is clear and I think it would either take a directed misreading from a linguophile or language purist to find fault with the usage, or it is truly a regional (country) or age-specific difference. It certainly wouldn’t be the first.
    As for ‘milleu’, I have to express strong reservations. Perhaps it is just America, or perhaps the language hat crowd only traffics with other linguists, intellectuals, etc, or perhaps language hat traffics too much with the international english crowd (aussies, britons, euros, etc.) where a much larger vocabulary is acceptable, but in America, this word is, like many other ‘high-register’ words, almost non-existent in spoken english, and rarely present in written work except high-literature and doctoral-like work that requires that word (or is written by ‘pretentious’ students). I have trouble imagining any new yorker staff writer using the word ‘milieu’ in speech, in an article or in an editorial (except perhaps in a blue moon).
    Some of Hat’s readers seem to be totally clueless to the fairly strict delineations of ‘acceptable’ english use, even among ‘smart’/'intellectuals’. One can only drop words like ‘milieu’ in writing or speech if said person truly is clueless about how this will be seen by others (he will be labeled either pretentious, or similarly some clueless intellectual private school snob who honestly doesn’t know which words are acceptable in discourse, even among the intelligent/intellectuals).
    This is somewhat odd, because I’m sure the Hat crowd must be sensitive to the amount of ink used to cover president Obama’s pronunciation of the word Pakistan. As an American, I can honestly say, this simply pronunciation change (not even an addition of a word like milieu) is quite a serious issue that cuts across a variety of disciplines, language, class, culture, race, etc.
    As for ‘hating’ as a verb, not used by the imagined-inventors of this turn of phrase, I have to believe the hat crowd really doesn’t understand young people, youth culture, youth language, or commenting/internet writing at all.
    One commenter had it right, saing “‘ya’ll bes’ be not hatin’ on my bro’ like dat’” comes across as farcical and racist, but using the word ‘hating’ casually in a casual context is 9 out of 10 times, perfectly fine. So, stop hating.

  107. Noetica says:

    ¿Qué?
    Hsknotes (or however you want your name capitalised at the start of a sentence), an alternative hypothesis is that, as a highly collegial group, the “Hat crowd” is superbly sensitive to changes and nuances in language around the English-speaking world and beyond. As individuals, we are necessarily limited geographically and experientially; and this unfortunate sine qua non of temporal existence impels us to consult, compare experiences with, learn from, and inform each other.
    Here it is possible to join the discussion respectfully and with an open mind. You might like to try that.
    Meanwhile, I don’t understand your last few sentences. No one disputes that hating is common; we have been wondering about hating on.

  108. michael farris says:

    Starry Nijma, why are you hating on ‘hate on’?
    Do you use ‘diss’? If I’m not mistaken it went pretty fast (by pre-internet standards) from Jamaican (through AAVE?) to mainstream English. IIRC it was about two years from the first time I heard it to being used in presidential campaign coverage in international Time.
    The internet just makes that kind of diffusion faster. Now I don’t think I’d use ‘hate on’ while speaking for a variety of reasons but it’s become established in a kind of mainstream informal writing that I do engage in.
    For the record, one of the first examples of ‘hate on’ that I consciously noted was in the following story almost three years ago:
    http://www.slate.com/id/2142800

  109. Noetica.
    Firstly, as for the tenor of my post, let’s not pretend the tone of the original post or many of the comments are so very ‘resepctful’. And besides, its an internet post, don’t take it so seriously, we’re all adults here, ‘shouting’ on the internet, which my post really didn’t rise to the level of, must be looked in context. A ‘shout’ on the internet, would be a respectfully phrased comment in ‘real life’. Not everyone has the time or the desire to be that polite on the internet when you don’t have to deal with a person face to face.
    So, let’s look at that original post:
    I think we can take it for granted that most people’s reaction will be to wonder what on earth is going on inside that woman, but I’m wondering whether there are English speakers for whom “in (one’s) midst” is an even marginally acceptable substitute for “in (one’s) milieu” (which is the phrase I would have substituted).
    So, let’s be honest, this kind of tone ‘what on earth is going on inside that woman’, ‘take for granted’, ‘even marginally acceptable’, deserves a fairly strong response to something that writer clearly thinks is off the deep end. I think it’s important to say with force and vigor how misguided and wrong this person is in their assumptions.
    Secondly, my discussion of ‘hating’ necessarily included its “relative” ‘hating on’. I was referring to this specific usage of the word ‘hate’ in all its forms. Here are some:
    Stop hating!
    Stop hating on that!
    Don’t be such a hater.
    Why you got to hate like that?
    Why do you have to hate like that?
    Why do you have to be hating like that?
    Why do you do have to be hating on him like that?

    By the way, I felt I was entering the discussion to inform, converse, etc, just as I’m doing now.
    I’ll happily reply to any more questions or confusions and I’ll happily consider any recommendations about netiquette.

  110. I’m glad I’m not the only one who found hsknotes’ comments to be a bit above the shark. Labeling the LHers as “totally clueless”, “pretentious”, or “snobs” is not a very good start at “respectful conversation”. And as far as the assertion that there are “fairly strict delineations of ‘acceptable’ english use”…I’m not even going to touch that one. That one’s going to go over here like a lead balloon.
    As far as hsknotes’ other points:
    ►I am also from the midwest. It is NOT “perfectly acceptable and common” to say “in a person’s midst”.
    ►We like it when Hat drops words like “milieu” and we like discussing when and how they can be used. After a day of listening to stuff that has been intentionally dumbed down, and guarding one’s own words lest some complex word sneaks in and causes a misunderstanding, it is truly refreshing to come here and have someone not only be able to use the word milieu correctly in a sentence, but do so without any selfconsciousness and be confident that everyone who reads it will understand what he is saying.
    ►”Pakistan” has not been discussed any thread here that I am aware of.
    ►”Hate” is not the same as “hate on” which these days would be classified as a two word verb, similar to “cut up” and “pour out”.

  111. A.J. P. Crown says:

    I would answer you, Grumbly Stu, if I knew what I was talking about. You’re better off waiting for Language or Dave or someone.

  112. Michael Farris, no I do not use the word “dis”. Who would I say it to? The Hispanics I work with? While they are very fluent in English I do try to avoid slang there. The AA’s? They’re academic types and speak standard English at work. The students…..? Not. I don’t agree that it’s “mainstream English” although it is probably understood by almost everyone. It’s slang. Hypothetically I might use it with blacks on the street–I’m pretty sure I could do it correctly.
    As far as the Salon example, that one is not standard English, it is intentionally written in black slang. The dead giveaway is the “daaaammmmmn” at the beginning of the sentence. After that, you can only read it with a black accent.
    I’m just not real comfortable using something that is black slang because I’m just not black. At all. And I don’t want to give anyone the impression that I am. Race is also a topic that has a huge potential for being misunderstood, so would someone think it was offensive? Who can tell these days. I do use L33t and think it’s a tremendous amount of fun, but not here, it’s not that kind of a place. And emoticons, no, hardly ever, and always encoded so they won’t form the little yellow circle, although I do like asterisks. *sigh*

  113. michael farris says:

    Believe me, I’m sensitive to the pretty-fly-for-a-white-guy syndrome and there’s lots of usage I would avoid for just that reason. (white guys saying ‘bro’ set my teeth on edge).
    But some AAVE usage manages to bridge the gap and become part of mainstream SAE (AAVE is one of the biggest influences on SAE and one of the things that help distinguish it from other standards). I’d say diss has done so and ‘hate on’ is well on its way. I like the latter because it captures a nuance not easily expressed in any other way.
    I would also draw the line between informal usage and slang in a different place than you seem to. The problem is of course that almost no one can rigorously define slang and so they fall back on the supreme court definition: I know it when I hear it.
    On the other hand, I have an intense, visceral dislike for the more extreme forms of L33t though even there bits and pieces might filter their way in to my usage (though used more for ironic effect, that is if one can use ironic usage ironically).
    While on the subject, I also like the (l33tish?) spellings hator / hatorz though I mentally (and would never physically) pronounce the final syllable to rhyme with ‘more’.
    Final side note: Are there any examples of informal internet usage that describe nice or useful or exemplary conduct?

  114. Nijima, I can only assume come from very different parts of the midwest or very different age groups.
    you write:
    Michael Farris, no I do not use the word “dis”. Who would I say it to? The Hispanics I work with? While they are very fluent in English I do try to avoid slang there. The AA’s? They’re academic types and speak standard English at work. The students…..? Not. I don’t agree that it’s “mainstream English” although it is probably understood by almost everyone. It’s slang. Hypothetically I might use it with blacks on the street–I’m pretty sure I could do it correctly.
    I hate to sound ‘rude’, but this kind of statement, in my opinion, as a midwesterner under the age of 30, can only come from someone who clearly grew up in a different time than me. To even think that ‘dis’ is black slang, or suggest that it should be used ‘with black people’ is, sorry to be rude, the kind of thing people would laugh at because it sounds so strange, and, yes, racist. It is similar to the ‘clueless’ (in quotes to not offend any more than I have) white person ‘asking’ the group of ‘black’ people what to call them. Something must have happened generationally, or some rural/urban split, but I can say I’ve never felt the rural/urban split changed the outlook on language or vocabulary that much among people of my generation. I would be hard-pressed to find a white person in their early 20s who would have to think which ‘racial group’ he should or should not use the verb ‘dis’ with, (let alone imagine it is somehow ‘black slang’, whatever that means.)
    As for your other points, since you seem to think ‘midst’ cannot be used as I indicated, I can only assume it is a generational shift.
    Also, with regards to ‘universally understood’ ‘slang’, ‘mainstream’, and ‘standard english’, I think I’m getting into a discussion with a group of people with very different ideas about language use, culture (at least in America) and are likely much older than me. I think the level of back and forth would be incredible, but probably not as pleasant as you would like. And certainly not discussions of usage of ‘milieu’ after a long day of dumbing it down for other people. I know this comes across as rude, but I feel it is in inevitable with a chasm like this.

  115. On Obama and his pronuctiation, some links:
    http://blogs.independent.co.uk/the_campaign_trailers/2008/10/obama-blasted-f.html
    http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?cat=24
    http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=1183
    I find it almost as impressive that America elected a president who dared to pronounce words like ‘Pakistan’ and ‘Taliban’ the way he does as the fact that it elected a non-white president. (Ok, a bit of an exaggeration.) It’s not that he pronounces them that way, (many americans do), but that he used it in the setting that he used.

  116. mf: I’m sensitive to the pretty-fly-for-a-white-guy syndrome
    *throws hsknotes in swimming pool*

  117. hsknotes is correct that a lot of what older generations consider “black slang” has no racial marker for younger generations. I hear white associates in their 20s using “dis” or “my bad” without any self-consciousness. My white 9 year old would set Michael Farris’ teeth on edge because he thinks “bro” is acceptable slang (and I blame Nickelodeon for this).
    Anyway, if we’re going to complain about the younger generations I’d like to complain about the seemingly ever more widespread substitution of “ass” for the perfectly acceptable “shit.” I.e. “That tastes like ass”, “you look like ass today.” For some reason that expression sets my teeth on edge.

  118. hsknotes: I think you have identified the situation quite well. There are a very wide variety of people posting here, with necessarily very different backgrounds, outlooks, and opinions on language. You are under 30 from the US Midwest. I, for example, am 70+, originally Australian, lived in France 20+ years, and now in Britain 20+ years (and like Njima, also lived in Jordan).
    So I naturally have very different opinions on language to you. For instance, “dis” is never heard in my milieu here (and milieu, as someone noted, is perfectly acceptable in normally well-educated British speech). I have discussed “dis” with Language Hat off-post, suggesting that it may well not be heard in his milieu in the US, either…
    I am called a prescriptivist, because I am very conservative in accepting new usages, having had to stick to journalists’ stylebooks throughout my career. For instance, I detest impact as a transitive verb. Others like Michael Farris and jamessel (he and I throw virtual spears at each other over it), are much more accepting of new usages.
    Notably our Onlie Begetter, LH.
    Everyone here is more erudite than I am on language, often to the point of my not understanding (see the posts on Latin grammar), but I find much enjoyment and learning in what I do understand.
    And the off-topic wanders are great fun.
    I hope you enjoy joining in, as it may widen your horizons.
    In your explanations of “hate”, I suggest that :
    Why do you have to hate like that?
    is a very different usage to any “hate on” variant
    (and “Why you got to hate like that?” is simply ungrammatical).

  119. Marie-Lucie: when you enter TLFi, note the buttons under the graphic which say:
    Optimiser pour : o Connexion lente (modem) o Connexion rapide (ADSL/Réseau rapide)
    I find it comes with the modem button ticked, so you have to make sure to check the ADSL button to get the best speed
    Grumbly Stu: The above may help you too.
    Also, I understand what you mean, but what is the origin of and riverrun the stables. Whitewater rafting, thus ultra powerful cleaning ?

  120. hsknotes is correct
    Hsknotes is belligerent.
    Hsknotes’ main argument is “I hate to be rude but”.
    The secondary argument is “if your usage is not the same as mine you are a racist.”
    The third argument is “the kind of thing *people* would laugh at”, defining anyone who doesn’t speak like hsknotes thinks they should speak as *not people*.’
    Hsknotes does not even live in the midwest, admits to living on the east coast for 6 years. In that time a 12 year old becomes an 18 year old, and what is “young” has just shifted by quite a bit. And no, the high school students I know do not use “black slang”, but they do use internet slang like “owned”.
    Hsknotes thinks Spanish is a “race”. ¡Qué tonto!
    Hsknotes thinks “got to hate”, “have to hate”, “have to be hating”, and “have to be hating on him” are “forms” of word ‘hate’.
    I have a pretty high tolerance for people talking out of their asses, but when they claim they have to be rude and bullying because it is “inevitable with a chasm like this”, they need a serious reality check.

  121. Paul, reading your last comment about mentioning ‘simply ungrammatical’ made me laugh out loud and I am still smiling.
    Nijima: There’s quite a large difference between (pretty fly for a white guy syndrome) and regular usage of young people. If one uses things that are not exactly ‘cool’, it is always done with a certain amount of ‘irony’ attached. For clueless people, like the guy in the music video, there is of course that sort of denial and or ignorance, but that group doesn’t necessarily represent a majority.
    On Prescriptivism:
    This is neither the time nor the place to get into an argument about the merits or prescriptivism. I will only say, despite what you may think, I can be very conservative about some aspects of the english language for use in some situations. I have taught it before and have strong ideas about it. Having learned other languages as well I understand the value, importance and necessity of many things, like register, tone, and collocation. But, that doesn’t make me grit my teeth when a popular phrase like ‘ass’ gets substituted for ‘shit.’ Maybe when I’m older things like that will bother me more, but I doubt it.
    I’m sympathetic to some of the conservative case for language preservation and usage, some of what David Foster Wallace had to say about language use I find very interesting, (an American who dared to even mention the word ‘limn’). But, sadly what I find much of the conservative world complaining about is often things like the usage of ‘midst’ or comma usage, or ‘whom’.
    Why does the non-OED prescription of words like impact, effect, and affect bother people so much? I have no idea. These things came up for a reason and if they rise to the level of a great deal of acceptance without real case against their existence (except ‘it is wrong’) it is hard to deal with the prescriptivists. Like the usage of ‘ass’ for ‘shit’. You don’t like it, so what? It’s like the gay community, it’s here, it’s queer, and it’s not going away. At least not by you pointing at it and saying you don’t like it. But that’s just my opinion.
    As for ‘hating’.
    I can assure you my usage of the verb ‘to hate’ in all those contexts arises from the same meaning.
    Why you got to hate like that? Is how many an American would say “Why do you have to have like that?”
    Compare:
    Why do you have to hate on her like that?
    Why do you have to hate like that?
    In the second sentence, the usage of hate is exactly the same as the ‘hate on’ usage in the first sentence, but the object is omitted and hence the ‘on’ can be dropped as well.
    Example:
    Person A yells at Person B causing Person B to run away in tears. Person C has been watching the entire situation.
    Person C: Why do you have to hate on her like that?
    Person A: Because she deserves it!
    is equivalent to:
    Person C: Why do you hate like that?
    Person A: Because she deserves it!
    Where in both case Person C is essentially saying “Why do you have to be so mean (to her)?”
    I think perhaps a occasional look at the urban dictionary website might make things easier, but I recognize that site is less than idea for a variety of reasons.
    As for ‘grammatical’, I don’t think when using the word ‘got’ in the sentence like that one is necessarily thinking about ‘grammatical’ in the sense that you are.

  122. A.J. P. Crown says:

    Nij,
    The people upstairs from you who play mariachi band music, do you think they might know where to buy mariachi pants, the black ones with rows of silver bells on them? I’ve asked all over Mexico City, but no one seems to know where to buy them. Ask them if they know a place in Norway that sells them, preferably around Oslo.

  123. marie-lucie says:

    Paul, thank you – I thought I had to press “connexion lente” but I will try the other one.

  124. Why you got to hate like that? Is how many an American would say “Why do you have to have like that?”
    I think you misunderstand what I am trying to say. That’s fine in an informal context (though it grates for me) but to me it is “not correct” in formal written usage, and even my informal speech happens to be rather more formal than I assume yours is.
    If one is surrounded by peers using these forms, then I presume they become acceptable. If you are not – and many readers here, I believe, in the US as elsewhere, are not – then they remain difficult.

  125. A.J. P. Crown says:

    Actually, never mind, Nij. I forgot about just looking it up on the internet.

  126. Nijima,
    I’m sorry, but I think you are misunderstanding a lot of what I’m saying.
    I never meant to say usage determines ‘racism.’ My point was this: the kind of ‘I will use the term ‘dis’ with black people, at least to many people in my generation, comes across as ‘racist.’ or ‘something to laugh at.’ Now, I really, honestly, don’t mean any offense by this, I’m here just to discuss and inform, etc. Now my use of the term ‘racism’ also, admittedly is probably slightly larger in scope than what you are imagining.
    I am not saying anyone is ‘not people’. I’m just pointing out how different race and discussion of race and terms is in terms of generations. The not so infrequent situation where an elder white person will talk to black people, and ask things like, ‘well, how should i address black people’ or ‘how should i address you people.’ is so far from the world of a lot of young people, that it causes us to laugh a bit. That’s all I was saying.
    No, I lived on the East Coast for a while and don’t live there now either. I’m between homes, and kind of homeless. I’m currently not even in the United States!
    Young people is a troubling phrase, no doubt. I admit that.
    I never said that Spanish is a race, and I’m sorry you read that from my comment, but I’m a bit amazed that you would read my comments that way. I said ‘racial group’ when talking about blacks and hispanics, when I suppose ethnic group would be better usage, since it can better describe both groups. Is that really how you decided I determined Spanish is a race? Seems a perhaps a bit over the top.
    As for my discussion of the slang usage of the verb ‘hate’ in all its incarnations, I stand firm. They all stem from this common slang and non-standard of the verb ‘to hate.’

  127. PS:
    Compare:
    Why do you have to hate on her like that?
    Why do you have to hate like that?
    In the second sentence, the usage of hate is exactly the same as the ‘hate on’ usage in the first sentence, but the object is omitted and hence the ‘on’ can be dropped as well.
    The usage may be the same, but the meaning is totally different when “her” is dropped. Anyway, why use the extra “on” when it’s not necessary.
    And:
    Person C: Why do you have to hate on her like that?
    Person A: Because she deserves it!
    is equivalent to:
    Person C: Why do you hate like that?
    Person A: Because she deserves it!
    Sorry, it’s not equivalent. The second version is general: “Why do you hate [everything] like that?
    The first is specific: “hate her”.

  128. Paul.
    I get you Paul. I wouldn’t put any of those uses of ‘hate’ in standard formal writing, be it:
    Why you got to hate on her like that?
    with it’s use of ‘got’
    nor the sentence
    Why do you have to hate like that?
    with it’s slang usage of the verb ‘to hate.’

  129. A.J. P. Crown says:

    If one is surrounded by peers using these forms
    That’s right, Paul; the House Of Lords has changed in recent years.

  130. Paul.
    You don’t have me.
    You’ve been missing the whole idea behind this usage of ‘to hate’ and ‘to hate on.’
    Why do you have to hate on her?
    is in no way related to
    Why do you have to hate her?
    The ‘on’ isn’t unnecessary, it is marking this non-standard usage of the verb ‘to hate.’
    I’m sorry, but you are actually misreading all the example sentences. It is a new usage among the youth, in America at least.

  131. what is the origin of and riverrun the stables

    The first word of Finnegans Wake, and the fifth labor of Herakles.
    JJ, you should be able to summon up at least one sarcastic remark!? What I wrote is just an extemporaneous street Luhmann number. No cause for alarm.

  132. A.J. P. Crown says:

    Actually, does anyone know what the Spanish is for ‘trousers’?

  133. “el pantalón”

  134. A.J. P. Crown says:

    I didn’t want it to get lost, Grumbly Stu. If I were summoning up sarcastic remarks, I wouldn’t have any left over to use on you at the moment.

  135. A.J. P. Crown says:

    Thanks, Van-the-man. That sounds awfully singular.

  136. marie-lucie says:

    hate ~ hate on
    I find it interesting that for hsknotes (and, I am tempted to say, her milieu or at least one s/he knows) the verb to hate is only intransitive, where it used to be transitive. S/he compares to hate with to hate on her, not with to hate her. As someone earlier said, to hate on seems to mean to project hatred on someone, but the way h. uses it (or at least quotes it), to hate means the same, just without mentioning another person: to project a feeling, not to have this feeling.
    As for the generational difference (but there are people of all ages commenting here, h.), for most people their own speech norm is the one that was current in their milieu when they reached adulthood, and it tends to stay that way with only minor changes. Of course they will all stay the same in other ways (health, weight, agility, etc), while the older generation has never been young.

  137. “in my midst” is used for comic effect by Wodehouse (can’t trace the reference right now) – a chap is remarking that he can’t get away from a girl who seems to be following him around… “I went out into the garden for a quiet smoke, but she popped up through a trapdoor and was in my midst. I wouldn’t have been surprised to take a bath and find her nestling in the soap dish.”
    hsk’s the international english crowd (aussies, britons, euros, etc.) where a much larger vocabulary is acceptable
    reminds me very much of Spike Milligan’s “Now, gentlemen. You know that throughout the civilised world – and America -…”

  138. A.J. P. Crown says:

    Spike Milligan was a very cross man, filled with resentment that Peter Sellers had made it across the Atlantic and he hadn’t.

  139. A.J. P. Creole says:

    (On the plus side, he seems to have directed his anger towards America rather than at Peter Sellers. Not that Sellers was any nicer.)

  140. The line was said by a character played by Sellers in a script by Milligan, in 1954, when they were both still in London.
    Spike Milligan was a very cross man, mainly because when he was a young man a German to whom he had not previously been introduced had attempted to hack off his leg with a sharp-edged piece of metal.

  141. A.J. P. Creosote says:

    Ok, that would make anyone cross, but he was livid when a friend of mine bumped his mini in Notting Hill Gate.

  142. marie-lucie says:

    Grumbly Stu: I am not sure if I understood all your points, so here is a short linguist’s lecure.
    semantic/syntactic:
    semantic has to do with meaning, syntactic with the form or structure of sentences. A sentence can be grammatical (= in a form that is normal for native speakers) but nonsensical, while a sentence can be perfectly understandable without being grammatical, for instance one spoken by a foreigner with imperfect command of the language, as in Long time no see. Chomsky gave the sentence Colorless green ideas sleep furiously as an example of the former (although someone wrote a poem in order to challenge the assumption).
    Semantic bleaching refers to the fact that a frequently used word can lose its meaning under some circumstances. This can happen when a word is used paired with another which does have a meaning, so that one of them is only used in a particular phrase and its original meaning is forgotten, as in the stark of stark naked (the word still has a meaning by itself, but not quite applicable to the phrase).
    Semantic bleaching can result in a word becoming part of grammatical structure. In French there is the “double negative” structure ne … pas which originally meant “[to go] not [even] one step” (contrasting with other expressions with other concrete words) but ended up with pas totally losing its concrete meaning in this context and eventually becoming the main negative word (the original negative ne being omitted in most casual speech).
    Sometimes a word commonly used in connection with another one loses so much meaning that it becomes a grammatical (word-forming) suffix: the suffix -ly of many adverbs comes from an Old English word meaning “body”, and the adverbial suffix -mente in Spanish, -ment in French comes from the Latin word meaning “mind”.
    The problem with “language” is that it is not part of any distinction at all.
    I gather that you are a computational expert, so you are probably used to thinking in “either/or” terms. This becomes a problem with trying to understand semantics in structural terms: there are very few instances of clear-cut “either/or” meanings.

  143. A.J.P. Dictionary, the people upstairs just have a loud radio but they have turned it down now–after I spent an afternoon chain dialing my landlord–and as you can see, once again I have “quiet enjoyment” of my computer. They seem to throw heavy things and swear at each other a lot and the woman seems to be violent towards the man, so I am not eager to make their acquaintance. Of course first impressions can be misleading.
    If you can’t find what you want on the internet, I can ask my students tomorrow. I’ve been a guest at their mañanitas–Guadalupe is really huge here–and they have live mariachis for their midnight mass.
    One thing I notice is that the mariachi pants are all just a little bit different from each other in style, which makes me wonder if they aren’t custom made. Did you see the Mariachi Connection? and La Casa del Mariachi? The silver buttons on the side of the pants remind me of the Norwegian style sweater buttons. In Spanish they’re pantalones–just like in English you can’ t have just one.
    Is this about Cinco de Mayo?

  144. hate/hate on
    Two word verbs.

  145. Hsksnotes, you can be a fucking asshole.

  146. Hsksnotes, you can be a fucking asshole.

  147. Nijma: The link doesn’t seem to work. But from another site:
    4. The scientists wrote up their research. (The scientists wrote a report about their research.)
    5. The traffic cop wrote up the offender. (The policeman gave the offender a ticket.)
    6. Fred flipped off the policeman. (Fred made a rude gesture at the policeman.)
    As the last three examples show, it is sometimes a little tricky to come up with the exact meaning of a phrasal verb. This is because they actually constitute an idiom, a special way of getting across a certain meaning that cannot be decided just by putting together the parts of the phrase. Non-native speakers often have trouble understanding idioms; they have to learn them individually, like vocabulary items.
    As I am a non-native speaker of modern American, I presume the above explanation is why I have trouble with “hate on” as distinct from “hate”.

  148. Ajay: You know that throughout the civilised world – and America -..
    Please don’t judge all Americans by h. LH is American as am I. We both can be reasonably civilized (civilised?) for hours at a time.

  149. hate/hate on (link fixed)
    Two word verbs.

  150. marie-lucie says:

    Spanish pantalón” versus pantalones
    A while ago there was a discussion on “trousers” and similar words.
    Whether the word is singular or plural in Spanish probably depends on the proximity of the country to the US. pantalón is the original, pantalones sounds like it is influenced by US English “pants”.

  151. Older discussion on language hat of ‘hate on’:
    http://www.languagehat.com/archives/003363.php
    As for the new usage of hate/hate on, it is not merely a transitive/intransitive switch, it is a new meaning with a root related to the original meaning.

  152. Paul:

    4. The scientists wrote up their research. (The scientists wrote a report about their research.)
    5. The traffic cop wrote up the offender. (The policeman gave the offender a ticket.)
    6. Fred flipped off the policeman. (Fred made a rude gesture at the policeman.)


    The first example is very standard. The second example is one I wouldn’t use. I would say “wrote up a ticket”. There is a usage for “writing up” a person that means to write a formal complaint about someone at work and have it investigated with the aim of getting the person dismissed. The third example is somewhat colloquial–I first heard it in the 80′s. Before that it was “flipped the bird at”. You can’t say it in front of my mother.
    A text I have used for idioms is Julie Howard’s Idioms in American Life. It was surprisingly hard for the students–especially changing the idioms for different situations. For example “show up” meaning “arrive” in the past tense becomes “showed up”, the negative is “didn’t show up” and 3rd person singular is “he usually shows up”. You won’t find “flip off” in there and you won’t find the answers to the exercises either–and no teacher’s edition.

  153. m-l
    My students tell me it’s “pantalones”, pronounced pahn-tah-LONE-ayes. It’s an exercise we have done several times in different classes about pants, shorts, glasses etc. and translated/discussed the differences between English and Spanish. They are mostly Mexican.

  154. marie-lucie says:

    Nijma,
    They are mostly Mexican. Which Spanish-speaking country is closest to the US?

  155. In Arabic it’s “bantalon”.

  156. I hate to sound ‘rude’
    No, you clearly don’t. Look, I realize you haven’t been around here long and you don’t know the cast of characters; of course that’s not required, but you might want to hand out a little more benefit of the doubt rather than painting everyone with the broadest brush you can find.
    I’m sorry you found my original post offensive, but 1) I was clearly wrong about the widespread acceptability of “in his/her midst” (note that the whole reason I made this post was to find out if I was right, and I’m always happy to be proven wrong, it’s the only way to learn new things), and 2) as I said above, the “milieu” thing was an over-hasty suggestion—”around her” or the like would be much better here. That said, there is nothing wrong with the word milieu, and you do yourself no favors as a would-be language discussant by pretending there is.
    Of course, your failure to understand that there is a difference between “hate” and “hate on” also casts doubt on your expertise in language matters (that’s if I’m parsing your comments correctly, which is not easy). And this is utterly ignorant:
    in America, this word is, like many other ‘high-register’ words, almost non-existent in spoken english, and rarely present in written work except high-literature and doctoral-like work that requires that word (or is written by ‘pretentious’ students). I have trouble imagining any new yorker staff writer using the word ‘milieu’ in speech, in an article or in an editorial (except perhaps in a blue moon).
    I have trouble imagining that you actually read the New Yorker, or indeed anything much beyond the internet. In any event, my advice to you, in terms you may understand, is LURK MOAR. You might learn something.

  157. Some Old Guy says:

    The New Yorker uses milieu in a review of a Will Ferrell movie.

  158. marie-lucie says:

    Nijma on two-word verbs:
    It was surprisingly hard for the students–especially changing the idioms for different situations. For example “show up” meaning “arrive” in the past tense becomes “showed up”, the negative is “didn’t show up” and 3rd person singular is “he usually shows up”
    I clearly remember that this was the most disconcerting thing for me when I started to learn English at age ten, and it would be also for any native speaker of a Romance language. First, you need two words where your language only uses one, and second, you can’t keep them together but have to separate them in many cases. The natural inclination of a French or Spanish speaker beginning English is to say “showups” not “shows up”. Speakers of German would not have this problem as they are used to verbs that can separate their parts. (The formation of the negative, something else that is very difficult for foreigners, has nothing to do with these particular verbs).
    Once you get used to the way these verbs work, you realize the great flexibility they give to the English language, but it can take quite a while – even many years – getting completely used to them.

  159. A.J. P. Cro-magnon says:

    I think it would be fun if you had the opportunity to take an evening class in English Appreciation, so you could become aware of more stuff like that. It would also be comforting that you don’t have to learn it.
    Nij, thanks, but I realise I’ll never wear mariachi pants now. I could sew my own pair with those Norwegian silver buttons, it’s a good idea and they’d look great with my rubber riding boots, probably, but who’s going to see them except the horses and goats? Maybe if there had been the internet when I first started looking, in the eighties. I can’t let the word pass by without asking, though. I still would like to know if you buy them at a music shop or a trousers shop or the mariachi outfitters.

  160. marie-lucie says:

    AJP: an evening class in English Appreciation
    If you take a class in English linguistics or in English syntax (especially one directed at future teachers of English as a second language), you will start to realize how amazing it is that you can hold all this complicated stuff in your head and just turn it on when you need to, and how teaching it to others is not as easy as you might think.

  161. Sure, milieu is perfectly fine in The New Yorker, but honestly I wouldn’t use it unironically in casual speech even with my Ivy League literature major peers, for fear of being mocked. I suspect most Americans really do perceive words like “milieu”,”jejeune”,”oeuvre”,”artiste” as pretentious or ironic if used in everyday speech. You can take that as a sad statement on rampant anti-intellectualism in the US if you like. You always need to be careful dropping foreign words into conversation with people you don’t know well. But actually I think it’s really more an anti-French attitude than an anti-foreign language thing. Among my business peers in the Northeast the ability to casually drop yiddish words or phrases into conversation seems to be highly regarded. And the same people who would never say “milieu” would happily say “Zeitgeist” and “Schadenfreude”.

  162. I’ll find out. You’ll never do it any younger. I think you would have to have the hat too. Your daughter would see you. I’ll never forget my father in a kafeeya.
    Bitdefender just found and zapped a trojan virus. First time ever. Two days ago I crashed for no reason; yesterday I ran Norton, Spybot and Ad-Aware and only found one tracking cookie (Norton saw it and couldn’t delete it, but Ad-Aware got it).

  163. marie-lucie says:

    vanya: “milieu”,”jejeune”,”oeuvre”,”artiste”
    One of these words does not belong. “jejune” is an English word, barely adapted from the original Latin. I have seen it in some literary criticism, but I don’t think I have actually heard anyone say it.
    jeune on the other hand is a French word meaning “young”.
    milieu: some of us have been using it on purpose on this thread.

  164. Vanya, thank you.
    I meant to type ‘new york times’ and not ‘new yorker’. The new yorker and a few other “mass audience” magazines: the new republic, the atlantic, etc, are some of the few places you can see words like ‘milieu’ pop up regularly, and that no doubt feeds into how the the new yorker, the intellectual class, and new york, to a certain extent is perceived.
    “but honestly I wouldn’t use it unironically in casual speech even with my Ivy League literature major peers, for fear of being mocked.”
    Exactly. This is certainly a point I am happy someone understands. As for your anti-french thesis, perhaps you have something there. Zeitgeist, and even schadenfreude to a lesser extent, seem be things that one can use, or one can at least imagine using them, while ‘jejune’ is like ‘milieu’ to the n-power.

  165. marie-lucie says:

    ‘jejune’ is like ‘milieu’ to the n-power.
    Indeed, but as I just said, it is NOT A FRENCH WORD.

  166. Artifex Amando says:

    David Marjanović: If you read Swedish, this resource can explain it, I think: http://g3.spraakdata.gu.se/saob/ – Svenska Akademiens Ordbok, The Dictionary of the Swedish Academy. Search for “mitt” and “mid”. Otherwise I will see if I can write an etymological summary of it tomorrow or later in the week.

  167. A.J. P. Crown says:

    Sonja (Diane Keaton): “That is incredibly jejune”.
    Boris (Woody Allen): That’s jejune? You have the temerity to say that I’m talking to you out of jejunosity? I am one of the most june people in all of the Russias!”
    - Woody Allen, Love And Death, 1975

  168. I meant to type ‘new york times’ and not ‘new yorker’. The new yorker and a few other “mass audience” magazines: the new republic, the atlantic, etc, are some of the few places you can see words like ‘milieu’ pop up regularly
    “milieu” on nytimes.com: 17,900 Google hits

  169. A.J. P. Crown says:

    Once hsknotes has thrashed out which words we might use without being mocked by his friends, perhaps one can go back to talking about something interesting. Oops, hope that wasn’t, like, racist!

  170. Such a jejune outlook is atypical in this milieu.

  171. Sorry for the confusion, Marie-Lucie. But I think “jejune” is perceived as French by the ignorant, such as myself. And I have certainly heard people pronounce it “zhezheun”, probably supposing that they were showing off their worldliness.

  172. jamessal says:

    Here’s MWDEU entry on jejune. I hadn’t known it wasn’t French until today. Thanks, ML!

  173. Noetica says:

    From that other thread in which hate on is discussed (thanks, hsknotes), which I had not monitored closely:

    To me, “hate on” seems to mean active expression of hatred, whereas “hate” is a disposition or attitude.

    Thank you, John Emerson. That answers the question I posed in this thread:

    To hate on? What is that? A dynamisation of the stative verb to hate?

    This gets some support from suggestions above, such as this from Michael Farris:

    “to publicly direct active dislike/disrespect toward someone/something”

    Another American verb form that has not taken root in Australian: to beat up on. We would only say to beat or to to beat up. In the context of assaults, to beat up is an aspectual variant of to beat. But how does to beat up on fit in?
    As for jejune:
    We should record here that French has jeûne (m) meaning “fast”, from the same source as our jejune (Latin jejunus; “fasting, barren, unproductive, meagre”, SOED). It also has jeûner (“to fast”), and jeun only in such phrases as être à jeun (“to be fasting”, “not to have eaten”). But modern French lacks any form starting with jéj-, except those to do with the jejunum: jéjunum, jéjunal (Petit Robert: “v. 1370; lat. méd. jejunum intestinum «intestin à jeun», à cause du peu de matières qu’il contient”).
    Greimas (only in his Moyen Français), however, reports an occurrence of jejune in Rabelais (16C): “fades, jejunes et de mauvaises salive” [sic]. The gloss is “affaibli, desséché”. No such adjective is found in Petit Robert or TLFi.
    Déjeuner, a verb before it was a noun, means to “to break one’s fast”. Petit Robert’s etymology:

    desjeûner «rompre le jeûne» fin XIIe; lat. pop. °disjunare, d’ab[ord]. disjejunare

    English also has disjune. SOED:

    disjune … n. Chiefly Sc. arch.L15. [OFr. desjeün (mod. dial. déjun), f. desjeüner (mod. déjeuner) to break fast, breakfast (n.), f. des- DIS- 2 + jeün fasting f. L jejunus.] Breakfast.

  174. jamessal says:

    As mentioned in the other thread, “hate on” also often implies jealousy in the subject. “I hate him” is a fact, “I’m hating on him” more of an admission. Example: “I don’t like Mark’s shoes.” “Why not?” “Never mind, I’m just hating on him.”

  175. The jejune is stored in the Jejunum. You could say that the jejune are full of shit? Oddly, however, you’d be wrong, because the jejunum is found to be empty when people starve, and was so named for this reason. Thus, the jejune are less full of shit than the june.

  176. The jejune is stored in the Jejunum. You could say that the jejune are full of shit? Oddly, however, you’d be wrong, because the jejunum is found to be empty when people starve, and was so named for this reason. Thus, the jejune are less full of shit than the june.

  177. I would say that “hating on” usually means the habitual and repeated active expression of hatred towards someone or something. For example, fans of one team will hate on players from the teams traditional opponents. Or for example, at Crooked Timber I hate on economics and analytic philosophy.
    Hating on might just barely be a one-time thing, but even then there’s a supposition that there will be future hating on, and that the present case is just the beginning.

  178. I would say that “hating on” usually means the habitual and repeated active expression of hatred towards someone or something. For example, fans of one team will hate on players from the teams traditional opponents. Or for example, at Crooked Timber I hate on economics and analytic philosophy.
    Hating on might just barely be a one-time thing, but even then there’s a supposition that there will be future hating on, and that the present case is just the beginning.

  179. jamessal says:

    Re “hating on”: this is one of those rare instances in which I feel confident that John Emerson is wrong and I am right. (About Updike, too.)

  180. marie-lucie says:

    an occurrence of jejune in Rabelais
    Noetica, as you probably know, an occurrence of a word in Rabelais does not mean it its a “French word”. Rabelais is full of nonce forms, adaptations from Latin or Greek (among others) and his own creations. Such words might be found in a glossary of Rabelaisian words, but not in a regular dictionary.

  181. jamessal says:

    Yeah, so the like the lady said: IT IS NOT FRENCH.

  182. marie-lucie says:

    “breakfast”:
    I wonder how old the word breakfast is. Usually English compounds of verb+noun (eg turnkey, pickpocket) are modelled on French words, so could this one be a loan-translation (roughly) from MidF desjeûner «rompre le jeûne», literally “break the fast”?

  183. David Marjanović says:
    David: Still laughing at “semantic bleaching”.

    Why?

    Because of the pun it ended up in.

    The line is that “a language” or “the German language” is a notion of extreme vagueness, with which you can’t get very far in understanding what’s happening when people talk with each other. I wouldn’t even dignify the notion of “language” with the title of “abstraction”. There are so many different speech registers, vocabularies, translators and so on, that I wanted to ask what an idea like “this language is more verbose than that one” could possibly be good for. I claim that it is unintelligible, i.e. I don’t understand it. It’s but a small step then to the expectation that you, gentle reader, if you think it intelligible, should show how this could be.

    I was only talking about the written standard languages. I think I mentioned that words are generally shorter in, for example, my dialect which never gets written. (I didn’t give examples. Well, zusammen has a single syllable in my dialect, so that words like zusammenhauen end up with two in total. There are also plenty of words of less than one syllable, just like in “who’d'a’ thunk”.)

    Do you use ‘diss’? If I’m not mistaken it went pretty fast (by pre-internet standards) from Jamaican (through AAVE?) to mainstream English.

    And beyond. Way beyond. My 16-year-old sister didn’t know dissen was not German in origin.
    10 years earlier, my generation (16 years old at that time) had just noticed it as a new feature in English that the teachers didn’t know.
    (No, culturally it does not make sense to say I’m in the same generation as my sister. Thank you for asking.)

    I hear white associates in their 20s using “dis” or “my bad” without any self-consciousness.

    Oh, yeah, “my bad” is all over teh intart00bz too, used by (among others) people I know to be white scientists. I’m not even sure if it’s limited to Americans now… probably not.

    The natural inclination of a French or Spanish speaker beginning English is to say “showups” not “shows up”. Speakers of German would not have this problem as they are used to verbs that can separate their parts.

    Yes, but it’s still not trivial, because in German the parts are separated equally wide in all such verbs, while in English there are some where wide separation is preferred or even obligatory, and others where the… let’s call it a suffix… has to stay right behind the main part of the verb, and yet others were both usages are possible, and some that look like the latter but in fact the different usages mean different things — like blow up: you blow_up a balloon, but you use a bomb to blow stuff up, right?

    David Marjanović: If you read Swedish

    <sigh> I’ll try, thanks for the link.
    Reading Scandinavian languages is pretty easy for me, till the second sentence or so, where there’s suddenly a word that I just can’t figure out…

    the jejunum is found to be empty when people starve

    I thought it’s generally empty in corpses?
    ——————-
    hsknotes: tl;dr.

  184. David Marjanović says:

    I wonder how old the word breakfast is.

    In any case it has no German cognate, even though both of its parts do.

  185. UPDIKE!!!!!

  186. UPDIKE!!!!!

  187. Noetica says:

    Yeah, so the like the lady said: IT IS NOT FRENCH.
    Well, jammesal and Marie-Lucie, an inspection of the transcript will show that I did not claim that jejune was a “French word”. But the occurrence recorded in Greimas is a testament to his thoroughness, and goes some way towards accounting for my adulation of him.
    Breakfast:
    The first citation in OED:

    1463 Mann. & Househ. Exp. 224 Exspensys in brekfast, xj. d.

    The verb to breakfast has no citation before 1679; but to break one’s fast is cited at “break, v.” much earlier:

    c1400 Beryn Prol. 71 Ete & be merry, why breke yee nowt yeur fast?

    For completeness, let it be known that French dîner (whence English dinner) originates in desjeûner also.

  188. marie-lucie says:

    Noetica, thank you. I greatly appreciate your thoroughness.
    Since these quotations are so late, it is quite possible that the word breakfast, and the phrase that preceded it, are at least influenced by the French word, which also refers to the end or “breaking” of the nightly fast.

  189. jamessal says:

    Well, jammesal and Marie-Lucie, an inspection of the transcript will show that I did not claim that jejune was a “French word”.
    I was just goofin’, actually. But I’m sorry, that probably didn’t come across.

  190. marie-lucie says:

    Noetica, yes, I guess you included the work for the sake of completeness, which I appreciate too.

  191. JE:You could say that the jejune are full of shit?
    Technically it’s a “bolus” in the stomach and “chyme” after it passes into the duodenum.
    I don’t be hating on shit, mind you, I be striving for technical accuracy.

  192. the jejunum is found to be empty when people starve

    I thought it’s generally empty in corpses?

    The last meal of the Tolland Man (Danish bog corpse) from the small intestine:
    http://www.tollundman.dk/sidste-maaltid.asp

  193. Noetica:Another American verb form that has not taken root in Australian: to beat up on. We would only say to beat or to to beat up. In the context of assaults, to beat up is an aspectual variant of to beat. But how does to beat up on fit in?
    I’ll take a stab at it.
    ~to “beat” is just to hit, you can hit a person or a thing
    ~to “beat up” is to assault, a group of school children might beat up another child, meaning physically assault, probably with some lasting injury or bruise.
    ~to “beat up on” is to assault, possibly without doing any physical damage. I have only heard this used in the sense of a verbal attack. Someone who expressed a weird theory might have one or more experts beat up on them verbally. It’s sometimes used as an admonition to urge someone to be less harsh in argumentation. “You guys are really beating up on him.” “Gang up on” is similar, but with more than one persecutor.

  194. A.J. P. Chum says:

    So… if you add -on to a verb it means you’re using it metaphorically rather than literally? Hate on, beat up on: there’s no actual hating or beating up being done. That’s not quite the case with ‘cheating on’ though, which the others sound (to me) like they developed from.

  195. ‘cheating on’ though, which the others sound (to me) like they developed from

    My sentiments exactly, Senator. Or rather, O glosser of the deceitful heart.
    Are you serially epitheting yourself with dictionary entries which start with C? What elegant conceit lies therein?

  196. michael farris says:

    I think that beat up on can be used literally although then the connotation (for me) is that the beating (up on) isn’t that efficient (for whatever reason).
    Also for me ‘hate on’ can be indirect. In the example I linked to, Hingis didn’t say anything that _directly_ hateful toward another player, but what she said indicated she thought very little of her and was all the more devastating for that.
    There can also be something ritualized and unthinking about ‘hate on’. To say someone is ‘hating on’ something is to express the speaker/writer’s value judgement that there’s something not quite right with said behavior.
    If I say Rush Limbaugh is hating on Obama I’m referring to what I perceive as his pre-set, uncontemplated anti-Democrat(ic) biases. If I say the Obama administration is hating on Limbaugh I’m referring to what I perceive as their (collective) antipathy to criticism and their own anti-Democratic biases. If I say Limbaugh and the Obama administration are hating on each other I’m indicating how devoid of substance and interest that particular conflict is for me.
    If I say that both Nowegians and Danes like to hate on the Swedes I’m indicating that the grumping is mostly for show and exceedingly unlikely to turn violent or serious.

  197. Breaking news off-topic:
    Yesterday the buildings containing the Cologne Municipal Archives collapsed. Here’s a German blog on it, in English.
    In the initial stages of blaming, the idea is being bruited that it was caused in part by the new subway tunnel which was bored out underneath the south section of Cologne, and finished last year. Two years ago, a church over the construction site sank to its knees.

  198. michael farris, I think your exposition of what “hating on” is used to express, is the clearest and most apposite to date in this thread. In other words, I agree 100% with it.

  199. Stu: Are the Colognais (Kolners?) blaming on the tunnel, then? Or are they still investigating on the cause?

  200. I second Grumbly Stu.
    hsknotes: I believe our basic difference is that you are talking about informal usages, and I am talking about formal, written or spoken, usages.
    Never the twain, etc…

  201. ajay, you the man! I suppose it should be Colonialists, ever since the Romans founded it.
    Maybe it’s not clear why I put that info up on this thread. I mean, what’s an archive among bloggers? The answer is, 2000+ years of historical (and thus linguistic) documents are futsch: cloister records, administrative and legal documents, Nachlässe of Böll and other writers, you name it.

  202. A.J. P. Queue says:

    It doesn’t necessarily follow that everything will be lost just because the building collapsed. Sorry if anyone was hurt, but it does look like a jolly ugly building, typical of 1971. Of course nowadays there are preservation groups for that sort of late modern architecture.
    Yes, Grumbly Stu, I’m changing my name out of a boredom. It’s not serial, It’s done utilizing the first word you think of, like Rorschach inkblots.

  203. “Beat up on him” = “beat him up”. Maybe these are alternatives, with the former not treating “beat up” as separable.
    Cologne, uniquely among European cities, is not a pastry, a sandwich, or a sausage, but rather a perfume. Coleridge has explained this:

    The river Rhine, it is well known,
    Doth wash your city of Cologne ;
    But tell me, nymphs, what power divine
    Shall henceforth wash the river Rhine?

  204. “Beat up on him” = “beat him up”. Maybe these are alternatives, with the former not treating “beat up” as separable.
    Cologne, uniquely among European cities, is not a pastry, a sandwich, or a sausage, but rather a perfume. Coleridge has explained this:

    The river Rhine, it is well known,
    Doth wash your city of Cologne ;
    But tell me, nymphs, what power divine
    Shall henceforth wash the river Rhine?

  205. A.J. P. Smelley says:

    Coleridge was a terrible old conservative. Don’t let Pete fool you into thinking he was some kind of proto-eco-warrior.

  206. A.J. P. Crown says:

    But here’s something I found on the Wiki Coleridge page. It’s something he wrote about his schooldays, and despite the violent method I agree it’s a great idea:

    there was one custom of our master’s, which I cannot pass over in silence, because I think it … worthy of imitation. He would often permit our theme exercises, … to accumulate, till each lad had four or five to be looked over. Then placing the whole number abreast on his desk, he would ask the writer, why this or that sentence might not have found as appropriate a place under this or that other thesis: and if no satisfying answer could be returned, and two faults of the same kind were found in one exercise, the irrevocable verdict followed, the exercise was torn up, and another on the same subject to be produced, in addition to the tasks of the day.

  207. marie-lucie says:

    A great way to avoid correcting homework.

  208. John Emerson says:

    If I say that both Nowegians and Danes like to hate on the Swedes I’m indicating that the grumping is mostly for show and exceedingly unlikely to turn violent or serious.
    Damn.

  209. It would also indicate jealousy. And for good reason.

  210. A.J. P. Crown says:

    Jealous? Have you been there? What’s to be jealous of?

  211. I am not ALL Norwegian you know. My grandfather’s parents both emigrated from Sweden. So I am
    Svenska flicka too. For a long time we thought his father was illiterate because on the documents that people have seen, he signed his name with an X, but he got all the Swedish newspapers from Minneapolis. Other people in the family remember him reading the newspapers. My grandfather, the youngest in a family of nine, I never heard speak Swedish, but they say he could understand it. My grandfather was also an avid reader of newspapers (in English)and his favorite topic of conversation was the Roosians. (It was the Cold War.) He could get very excited about teh Rooshuns and sometimes even forget there were children about and say a Bad Word, whereupon someone would get concerned for him and come out of the kitchen and change the subject.
    Us Svenske flickas are hawt, you know, and smart as a whip besides, which is why they’re always hating on us with those blonde jokes.

  212. A.J. P. Crown says:

    Well, some of my best friends are Svenske. They are very smart.

  213. “which is why they’re always hating on us”
    you. have. been. assimilated.

  214. Um, 4 of 8, the last time I checked this was like the “hating on” thread. No need to be jejune. It’s not like I’m going to like say any of these words in front of my mother or anything–it’s just not done in my milieu.

  215. It’s no use talking to a Borg, Nij. All you can do is nuke them from orbit.

  216. That was a borg? Eeek! I recognized the reference by not the etymology. Not to worry, Vikings are very good at being assimilated. Sort of like the tiger who didn’t mind if the lady wanted a ride.

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