I don't think they teach huck finn in American schools any more becuse it is rather racist.

That was one of my favourite books in high school and I consider it far from racist. Showing how slaves were treated is not racist and having Jim as one of the most human characters in the book certainly is not racist. One of the central themes of the book was the evolution of Huck's point of view from the unthinking acceptance of that period's attitudes toward blacks, to the belief that Jim was better than most of the white folks Huck knew. The only thing I can think of for it being thought racist was the use of the pejoritive that apparently cannot be used even to make a point about the inhumanity of using it. Silly.

Votes + Comments

Huck Fin isn't racist. But under the PC police state, it's considered racist because of the way it's worded. They never look beyond the fact that it contains the word "nigger", never read the context in which it is used.
A word btw that blacks among themselves use extensively to refer to themselves to this day, yet when a white person uses it even when literally just quoting a conversation between two black people he's called a racist.

And even were it racist, it's a historical document and has a right to exist just because of that.
If we wipe out any part of our past just because we don't like it, we forget it and it's bound to happen again.


As a native French speaker, I find it very hard to believe that "debt" comes from an Anglo-Saxon root.

(I am going to have to start a crowdfunder to get me the Big Dic OED all I have now is the 12 pages to the page compressed version of the OED and even with one of those magnifying lense with light - it is tough for an old fart like myself to read - I want the full 22 volume set)
But I digress

Middle English det, dette, deytt; Old French dete, dette
around the 13-16th centuries it was artificially spelt debte after which it entered English as debt. The OED does not go into how or why the change was made but that progression seems to match the story I told. I am amazed at how Middle English seems so close (in this case) to Old French. I don't know the timeframes for OF and ME but the Battle of Hastings in 1066 could be were to words overlapped. The question becomes is ME ths same as Anglo-Saxon? it 2:30 in the morning, and kitty is purring on my wrists so I am not inclined to search any deeper.


My main pet peeve is when an oh so helpful “spelling” program insists on marking up words as misspellings (or worse, “auto-correcting”,) when they are typed correctly because I write in English not American English. E.g. colour, (and ironically,) localise etc.


Of course, the well-educated person will avoid these situations if possible.

Best practice is to avoid such situations in formal writing, not because the faux rules are in any way "better" to follow, but because "well-educated" people tend to crucify a writer for breaking them. In other words, best practice is best practice for the sole purpose of publishing writings with a minimal amount of bullshit from the target audience. ;)


I guess my English teachers managed to completely omit the splitting of infinitives.

It is interesting apparently lots of "rules" they used to teach in English class are being thrown away with (like "i before e except after c") because they just cause confusion and make people write badly just so they can follow the rules in situations where they are not appropriate -> like "to boldly go".


The question becomes is ME ths same as Anglo-Saxon?

No, ME comes much after Anglo-Saxon. Anglo-saxon is an antiquated term that refers to the Germanic settlers who came to the British Isles in the first millenium, before the Norman (French) invasion. Words of "Anglo-saxon" root are usually referred to with the more precise and modern term "Old German" in most dictionaries. And Middle English is essentially the language spoken in Britain after the significant mixing of French from the Norman invaders / occupiers (from 1066 and on).

I don't like the term Anglo-saxon because it attempts to re-write history to make it sound as though it was a mix of "Anglo" (i.e., the "English people") and "Saxons" (i.e., a small ground of immigrants from modern-day Netherlands / north-west Germany). It's a classic case of Anglo-centric re-writing of history. It attempts to deny the fact that the British Isles were essentially a part of the Viking empire for several hundred years (until the Norman invasion), and that even before the Vikings era, much of the population came from Scandinavian and Germanic areas. British historians have a long history of re-writing history to reflect the nationalistic view that the "English people" were always there and mostly ruled their own land (only admitting to short-lived invasions). The reality is quite different, but few history books will tell you that, mostly because they haven't been updated in a while.

English is a Germanic language with very strong French influence. About 70% of English comes from a mix of Old Norse (from pre-Viking immigration waves) and Old Scandinavian (from the Viking Era), and the rest (30%) is from French (from after the Norman Invasion, i.e., from Middle English). There are a few Celtic words left, but they are few and far between (and sometimes hard to separate from Old Norse). As I said, as a French-Swedish speaker, this connection is more than obvious. I remember at my very first English class in elementary school, I could recognize nearly every word written on the pages without any prior knowledge of English.

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Mike2k - thank you, I think I will remove most referenced to A/S from my vocabulary since it apparently has no real meaning. I think I assumed A/S was prior to 1066 and that is why I was confulsed with references to ME. So Old English is really Middle German? That is the impression I get from how people talk about Cantebury Tales.


Yeah, Old English and Old-Middle High German are very similar, but OE is a bit closer to Old Norse (which is kind of like modern-day Icelandic, which explains, for example, the "th" sound in English, and not in German). I recommend watching some of ProfASAr videos for a more elaborate exposition of all the germanic languages (incl. English) (according to times and places).


I'm off the topic, but do have some opinions on popular English usage. For one thing, we often use "passive" statements when stronger ones are warranted. For example, "I don't think so" is often used when "I think not" is more accurate. The second statement asserts that you're thinking, whereas the first leaves that in doubt.

Being in IT, I also hear a lot of words that have been invented. Is a "methodology" something different from a "method?" Is "functionality" not just "function?" I'll grant that there is probably some use for these invented words, but they are over-used.


Methodology is a bona fide word. It just relates to the study or analysis of methods used for a particular purpose. It's usually used incorrectly to mean the same as method. Functionality, to me, seems a 'new word', but that doesn't mean that it doesn't serve a purpose. I think if you replace all instances of functionality with the word function(s), then you'd probably end up with a lot of strange sentences. Again misused no doubt by the masses, or peddled by those that love to tag -ality, -ology, -ability etc onto words to make them sound grander. Reminds me of recent US President.

Edited by diafol


Being in IT, I also hear a lot of words that have been invented.

A lot of fields have their own jargon. If doh can make it into the official lexicon, I have no business discouraging word inventing when it improves communication. ;)


Improving communication is the key thing though. Otherwise our dictionaries would be littered to an even greater degree with nonsense entries.


Agreed. "Performant" is a non-word, but it's descriptive and useful in software development and IT. As such, I have no problem at all using it.


Reminds me of recent US President.

"Strategery" and "misunderestimated" immediately come to mind.

I used to work for a guy who liked to pepper his reports/presentations with phrases like "I utilized a methodology...". It used to make my skin crawl. Here in Canada we had a prime minister (Joe Clark) who was a master of that. On a formal tour of India, he asked a farmer "what is the totality of your acreage" when any normal person would have just asked "how much land do you have?"

I have no business discouraging word inventing when it improves communication

But do we really need words like "bromance" and "ginormous"?


Performant -- I had to google that word because I don't recall ever hearing it. That brought me to this discussion, which is on target with this thread, but was in 2008.

My pet peeve word is "depict" -- a 10 Dollar word for "show". I hate it when some people try to toss around large words when they could just as easily have used shorter and more common words.

Edited by Ancient Dragon


For some reason this discussion brings to mind a screencap I saw a while back. Someone had grapped a shot of the wifi spots in their area. One hot spot was "inconceivable" and it was followed a few entries later by another hot spot named "I don't think you know the meaning of that word".


I often cringe when I hear people refer to the "language" of a document, by which they mean the phrasing. The language is, in most cases I encounter, ENGLISH!


According to one post in the thread I linked to, performant has no clear definition, it can mean almost anything you want it to mean.

The useful thing about a word like “performant”, particularly for consultants and marketing people, is that it has no clear definition; it’s another weasel-word, like “premier”.
Try googling for “the industry’s premier” and ask yourselves what those phrases actually mean: cheapest? fastest? most reliable? resilient? popular?
It means whatever you want it to mean, and it makes a product sound better, in some imprecise, unprovable way.


Something that wonders me is the article before LED (light emitting diode), in a sentence like: "This is an LED."
I thought the rule was: Before vowel add 'n'.
We say and write "an apple" and "a pear". I would say "a LED" instead of "an LED".
Can some grammar aficionados give an explanation please?


Acronyms are interesting because sometimes you might spell them and sometimes you might say them as a word. The guideline for indefinite articles is "a" for words starting with a consonant and "an" for words starting with a vowel.

LED when spoken is usually spelled out as ell ee dee, so you'd use "an" because the pronunciation begins with a vowel. A more varied example would be SQL. I say seekwool ("a SQL database" because the pronunciation starts with a consonant), but others might say ess kyoo ell ("an SQL database" due to the starting vowel sound).


I thought the rule was: Before vowel add 'n'

I think the rule is : Before vowel sound / pronunciation add 'an'.
An is placed before a vowel pronouncaition.
ex:- an LED, an MLA , an hour etc.

however i am not good at english.

Edited by Learner010


I think the rule is : Before vowel sound

Yes, that's how I was taught. For example "an historian" not "a historian". but I've heard a lot of people on TV using a instead of an, which I think is incorrect.


So, as I understand now, it has nothing to do with how you write it but how you pronounce it. For the beginning "h" (not a vowel) it is the same as in Dutch; some people pronounce it, some don't. So it is an ibiscus, an istory and a hibiscus, a history But I still don't know what the general writing rule is. I still would write a LED, because for me that has become a word "led", not something to spell as "el ee dee"


As a native English speaker I'm embarrassed, often I don't know how to use properly structured and grammatically correct sentences.

That being said, how many English teachers do I know who sit teaching English grammar but have yet to master a second language? It's quite a lot.

The students who they teach happen to know maybe two or three languages. And in my opinion, that speaks volumes. I would class that as being more intelligent than one person knowing only one language and knowing it well.


So it is an ibiscus, an istory and a hibiscus, a history But I still don't know what the general writing rule is.

I'd write it the way I speak it, and recognize those cases where speech may vary when reading how others write. So in writing, "an LED" and "a LED" are equally correct because both pronunciations are equally correct.

The key to understand is that rules of writing aren't chiseled in stone; good writers will follow them in general, but break them without apology when doing so is justified. However, the difference between that and poor writing is an understanding of the rule and having a good reason for not following it.

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