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Monday, September 22, 2008

new poll

I put a new poll in the margin of this blog today. Have fun with it.


At Tue Sep 23, 12:22:00 AM, Blogger Iyov said...

I knew them all, because I read the KJV. But you didn't capture the primary reading of "hoary" as it is used in the KJV -- it means "old" -- "whitish" is a secondary meaning (from the white hairs of an old person).

But let's cut to the chase: Is this so hard? "Straightaway" is still used in ordinary contemporary speech ("I'll get on it straightaway:). And isn't "asunder" from Matt. 19:6 part of the BCP marriage ceremony?

I used "hoary" last week. The meaning of "inditing" is obvious from its grammatical form (even more so when it is spoken aloud, when there is no possibility of confusing it with "indicting"). And since I gainsay so often, I certainly know what it means.

I suppose an immigrant or someone with limited exposure to sophisticated English might stumble here or there, but even then, from context, the meaning of the word is obvious.

If there are people who can't understand these words, then I blame the NIV for watering down our society's grasp of vocabulary.

At Tue Sep 23, 12:24:00 AM, Blogger Iyov said...

Wow, I just saw the poll results -- it seems a lot of people have trouble distinguishing "hoary" from "hairy" and "inditing" from "indicting." Hilarious. I wonder if those are the same people who wondered how Gary Trudeau had time to both pen the Doonesbury comic strip and be prime minister of Canada.

At Tue Sep 23, 05:15:00 AM, Blogger Dan Sindlinger said...

When I saw "inditing", I suspected that you misspelled "indicting". So I looked it up in the dictionary and was surprised to find that there is such a word. I'm not aware that I ever heard it, and I know I never used it.

At Tue Sep 23, 07:02:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

I think you meant "straightway", a word in KJV, not "straightaway", which is not. I think the meaning is the same, but I'm not sure.

Iyov, I think you have trouble distinguishing "hoary" from "hairy". The former clearly has a primary meaning of whitish like hoar frost. And how would you pronounce "inditing" and "indicting" differently, or are you doing a spoof of yourself here? Come to think of it, are you in fact altogether a spoof of yourself?

At Tue Sep 23, 10:06:00 AM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Peter thought:

I think you meant "straightway", a word in KJV, not "straightaway", which is not. I think the meaning is the same, but I'm not sure.

You're right, Peter. What confused me were two dictionary entries, one for "straightway", the other for "straightaway." I have corrected the spelling in the poll. Thanks.

At Tue Sep 23, 10:11:00 AM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Iyov wrote:

Wow, I just saw the poll results -- it seems a lot of people have trouble distinguishing "hoary" from "hairy" and "inditing" from "indicting." Hilarious.

It might seem hilarious, but it's not from a linguistic point of view. Those words are unknown to the majority of fluent speakers today, so they can only guess at their meaning. I wanted to make the poll longer but I didn't want to overload poll takers.

The NIV has nothing to do with it. The NIV has no impact on word usage for English speakers. The English language, like every other language, is constantly undergoing changes, some slowly some more quickly. Some words become obsolete or archaic for the majority of speakers. New words enter the language; just "google" for some of them! :-)

At Tue Sep 23, 01:43:00 PM, Blogger Iyov said...

Well, the NIV had something to do with it because it caused a large number of people to stop reading the KJV!

I hardly think that "straightaway" or "asunder" are unknown to the majority of fluent speakers today. Perhaps "hoary", "gainsay", and "inditing" are less well-known, but I think that most college graduates should know at least the first two.

Arguably, those words would be more common today if the KJV were more widely read.

At Wed Sep 24, 12:43:00 PM, Blogger Dru said...

This is interesting. I am more or less certain Peter is right that 'hoary' means old because it originally meant white haired deriving from frost.

I too am fairly sure that 'straightway' and 'straightaway' are different versions of the same word, with the same meaning, but stand ready to be corrected by someone who actually knows.

'Asunder' I'd be more precise on and say it would originally have meant simply apart, as in the old marriage service, but now more likely to be used with the more specific sense of 'divided' or 'in two'.

I will admit that I too was thrown by indite, which I'd guessed as being an alternative spelling for indict.

I'm puzzled by 'sawed' by the way. If asunder did mean that, wouldn't it be 'sawn'? Or does that demonstrate that my own idiom has become antique without my realising it? Perhaps it has. The spellchecker on my browser has just questioned 'sawn'.

At Wed Sep 24, 02:54:00 PM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Dru, thanks for the support.

Personally I use "sawed" for the past tense: "I sawed the wood"; but "sawn" for the past participle: "a pile of sawn wood" or "I have sawn the wood". But I would allow "I have sawed the wood". My own UK spelling checker allows both words.

At Wed Sep 24, 03:48:00 PM, Blogger Dru said...

Thanks Peter. My usage would be the same as yours.

At Thu Sep 25, 10:38:00 PM, Blogger Iyov said...

Indeed, "indite" and "indict" are two forms of the same word -- the latter developing a specialized meaning of the first over time.

To suggest that "hoary" (like a hoar) meant frosty in 1611 is akin to suggesting that "naughty" (like naught) meant non-existent. Hoary has always meant "old" in English. The OED gives the earliest usage, from Lesclarcissement de la langue françoyse (1530) as "Hoory as a man or beestes heare is" followed hard upon Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey's Songes and sonettes, "What will she do, when hory heares are powdred in her hedde?" Now, if you are used to seeing young people with hoar's hair, then please feel free to disagree.

At Fri Sep 26, 04:37:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

No, Iyov, you are committing the linguistic blunder of confusing the meaning of a word with its reference. Maybe "hoary" is used only or primarily of older people's hair. But that does not imply that the word in itself means "old". Consider an old man whose hair had in fact unusually remained jet black. Would you call his hair "hoary"? Surely not. But consider someone whose hair had become prematurely grey perhaps in his 30's. Would you call his hair "hoary"? Well, I wouldn't because I would never use the word, but I would think the usage justified. And your 1530 example makes it clear that this is not a matter of age as most "beestes" do not go grey with age as humans do. So the evidence suggests that this word is simply a colour term, used primarily of hair.

At Fri Sep 26, 07:28:00 PM, Blogger Iyov said...

So I guess that in Isa 46:4, Peter would say that the KJV offers no solace for those who their hair. (By the way, the KJV is a brilliant translation of the Hebrew idiom.)

At Sat Sep 27, 11:53:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Iyov, you mean "even to hoar hairs will I carry you"? I understand "hoar" as a noun, short for "hoarfrost", and so "hoar hairs" are hairs or filaments of hoarfrost. So I suppose God is promising here to carry us to a place covered with hoarfrost.


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