In this video, the host, Michael Stevens, talks about a few things he finds interesting about the English language including rhyme, puns and irony.
If you like, you can pause this video and go watch that video first. Depending on where you're watching this, you'll find that in a link that'll pop up now, or can find it on our transcript page.
The video's for native English speakers, and he covers quite a few different topics, so don't worry if you struggle to follow everything he says.
One interesting thing that Michael talks about is the difference between collateral adjectives and derived adjectives.
He says: "English loves collateral adjectives. Adjectives derived from different roots than the nouns they describe."
Have you heard of collateral adjectives and derived adjectives before?
Derived adjectives are also called denominal adjectives and they are derived or formed from a noun and usually by adding a suffix.
For example, sleep is a noun. I need more sleep.
And if you add the suffix y you get the adjective sleepy. I feel sleepy.
In the video Michael says: "A bunch of clouds make the day cloudy, friends are friendly, poets are poetic, things with a lot of smell to them are smelly, but the Moon is not Moonly. The Moon is lunar."
"A bunch of clouds make the day cloudy, friends are friendly, poets are poetic, things with a lot of smell to them are smelly, but the Moon is not Moonly. The Moon is lunar."
Lunar is a collateral adjective. That means that it's not derived from the noun it describes. Collateral adjectives in English often come from Latin or Greek. And the origin of the word lunar is Latin.
Another example of a collateral adjective that Michael gives is oral. He says: "Mouth stuff is oral."
You might have an oral exam in a language course - that's an exam where you're speaking rather than writing.
Oral health is about the health of your mouth, your teeth and gums.
And when I typed oral into google images I saw some pretty disturbing images of people with oral cancer. I don't recommend doing that.
Last year a woman in Ohio got a parking ticket.
However, the woman discovered a tiny mistake in the law.
It was meant to say "motor vehicle, camper" - but the law was missing the comma.
So she went to court and argued that the law didn't apply because her vehicle wasn't a "motor vehicle camper".
The court disagreed. They said she was guilty and ordered her to pay court costs.
So she appealed the decision and she won.
And that was Stick News for Thursday the 2nd of July.
Dude ... do the crime, pay the fine.
Security, we have a real-life Grammar Nazi ...
Settle down, Erin Brockovich. You got out of a parking fine because you found a typo.
This is something that Michael talked about in the video.
He says: "If you say police enough times it starts to sound like it's not even a real word. That is called jamais vu, the reverse of deja vu, when something familiar all of a sudden feels new and novel."
"If you say police enough times it starts to sound like it's not even a real word. That is called jamais vu, the reverse of deja vu, when something familiar all of a sudden feels new and novel."
I've definitely felt jamais vu before, but I'd never heard of the term before I watched this video.
Have you felt it? If not, try this. Think of a word, any word, let's say, spoon. Now say it 20 times.
Spoon. Spoon. Spoon. Spoon. Spoon. Spoon. Spoon. Spoon. Spoon. Spoon. Spoon. Spoon. Spoon. Spoon. Spoon. Spoon. Spoon. Spoon. Spoon. Spoon.
Does it still seem like a real word?
Strange isn't it?
Sarah: Yeah. What's the example he gives?
Harvey: He says that fathers can be fatherly or paternal.
Sarah: Right. Yeah.
Harvey: So, you can use either one?
Sarah: Sometimes. It depend on the sentence. For example, you might usually say fatherly advice but paternal advice would also be acceptable, because in that sense they both mean characteristic of a father. But if you said he's my paternal grandfather, you couldn't replace that with he's my fatherly grandfather, because in that sense paternal doesn't mean characteristic of a father it means related through the father's side of the family.
Harvey: Can you give me another example?
Sarah: Yeah, I was just thinking of one before. Feline means like a cat, but there's also the adjective catlike.
Harvey: And how would you use feline in a sentence?
Sarah: You could say Kate Moss has feline features, but you probably wouldn't say Kate Moss has catlike features, because using the word feline sounds like she's slightly catlike but in a beautiful way. But if you said catlike features, it sounds more like she just looks like a cat, and she's not beautiful.
Tomorrow's show is outside again. This time we're filming at a park down the road called Fergusson Domain.
See you there. Bye!
Hey, Vsauce, Michael here. In 1934 Webster's dictionary gave birth to a new word by mistake. Their chemistry editor Austin N Paterson submitted a simple entry: "D or D abbreviation for density".
Nothing wrong with that, but the entry was misread and 'dord' was added to the dictionary.
'Dord' was an accidental word for thirteen years before the mistake was discovered and its wordship revoked.
Let's have fun with words today, but first, what's the deal with first? Or for that matter, second? If you were in position three you're in third place. Position 5, fifth. Position 197 one hundred and ninety-seventh. Pretty simple. So why do positions 1 and 2 give us first and second? Shouldn't they be 'oneth' and 'twoth'?
But English loves collateral adjectives. Adjectives derived from different roots than the nouns they describe. There are plenty of derived adjectives, don't get me wrong. A bunch of clouds make the day cloudy, friends are friendly, poets are poetic. Things with a lot of smell to them are smelly but the Moon is not Moonly. The Moon is lunar. Collateral adjectives are everywhere. Mouth stuff is oral. Bees are apian.
Some nouns have both. Fathers can be fatherly or paternal. And a setting filled with fog can be foggy or brumous.
It's often said that no word rhymes with orange. Is that true? Well, rhyming can be controversial because it often depends on pronunciation, accent and can be forced. Especially if you use multiple words, you can force orange to rhyme with door hinge, if you want. But what we want is a perfect rhyme. A perfect rhyme is what occurs between two words like tickle and pickle. They are perfect rhymes because the final stressed vowel sound and all the sounds afterwards are identical.
Identical doesn't rhyme with pickle, because even though they both end with 'ickle', identical has it stress in the wrong place.We could rhyme them if we pronounced it not identical but instead identical. With that in mind, orange does have perfect rhymes. They just happen to be extremely obscure, like 'Blorenge', a hill in Wales. Silver also has a perfect rhyme: chilver, a female lamb. Think Fact delineated even more words we often say don't have rhymes but actually do. Point is, orange does have perfect rhymes, and even if it didn't, well, that wouldn't make it special. Sure, monosyllabic words tend to rhyme with other words. It's believed there are only about 100 single syllable words that have no rhyme. For instance, wolf, sixth, depth and filmed. But considering words of all lengths, it's been calculated that most English words don't rhyme with anything. Don't believe me? Well, leave a comment below. The word 'comment' rhymes with nothing, nor does husband, sandwich, liquid, penguin, chimney, empty, and, of course, 'nothing' rhymes with nothing.
Identical rhymes are even more perfect than perfect rhymes but they become so identical at that point
it's a little obvious and not really appreciated. Identical rhymes occur when the consonant sound before the final stressed vowel between two words are also identical. Sun and gun are perfect rhymes. But gun
and begun are identical rhymes. So are offend and defend, or homonyms like son and sun.
You could call the people who watch over, and monitor, the police 'the police police'. Who watches over them? Well, 'the police police police', of course. You can string together any number of police's and always create a sensible, though clunky, title. You can even use the word police by itself to create a grammatical sentence. It takes eight of them. Police police police police police police police
police. Here's what the sentence means. Police police, which police police police watch over, police police. Add any multiple of three more police to this stream and you preserve the grammar. The most that fit on Twitter is 20.
If you say police enough times it starts to sound like it's not even a real word. That is called jamais vu, the reverse of deja vu, when something familiar all of a sudden feels new and novel. I've covered it before but let's be clear.
If you don't practice obediency to the police you may wind up in J L. Escape, and you're an SKP.
Letters, whose names said together some similar to words, are called Gramograms.
You can't hear a pterodactyl urinate because it's silent 'p'. But every letter in the alphabet is silent sometimes.
And some letters are used more frequently than other letters in English words. Scrabble provides more of those letters and people guess them more often when playing hangman. Next time you play hangman you can take advantage of this. People will guess more letters incorrectly if you choose a short word
that has few different letters. John McLuhan ran 15 million computer simulations of hangman
and he found that the most difficult word for people to guess is jazz.
Phantonyms aren't ghostly undead words, they're words that appear to mean one thing but
actually mean something completely different.
Enervate sounds like it means to fill with energy but it actually means to drain of energy, to weaken.
Noisome appears to mean really noisy but it actually describes something that has an extremely offensive smell.
In 2005, the New Oxford American Dictionary published a new word: esquivalience.
They said it meant the wilful avoidance of one's official responsibilities. But it didn't. They made it up
as a copyright trap. If anyone copied their dictionary the stealer wouldn't be able to explain how esquivalience wound up in their dictionary without admitting that they had copied it. Map makers often insert fake features for the same purposes. Streets and towns that only exist to trap copiers that only exist on paper, Paper Streets & Paper Towns. The author of The Trivia encyclopedia even placed a fake fact
in one of his books because he was certain that the Trivial Pursuit board game was taking their questions
from his book. Sure enough, later the board game included his fake fact as a real question. Similarly, the esquivalinece trap was used to catch Dictionary.com.
But here's the thing: authorities don't tend to respect copyright traps built out of fake facts.
Facts cannot be copyrighted. They belong to, and can be used by, all of us. US federal courts have argued that fake facts presented as real are not protected, because if they were, no one could share real true information without fear of sharing something protected by copyright. That said, stylistic decisions like how the facts are selected or arranged or articulated can be copyrighted. When the automobile association was caught mimicking the stylistic features of ordnance surveys, they were forced to pay up twenty million pounds. You cannot own a fact and you cannot own a lie you made up, if everyone believes it. But you can own how you tell them.
Puns are great, and in 'The Pun Also Rises' John Pollock relates a fantastic story. Puns can be traced
all the way back to be epic of Gilgamesh, where people are warned of an upcoming giant flood. They are told that the skies will soon rain kibtu and kukku. Words that mean corn and the sound corn makes when falling on the ground. But in the story, the words are actually puns on words for misery and suffering.
People who got the pun prepared and saved their own lives, but those who failed to recognise the pun perished in the flood, which means the very oldest pun on record was literally corny. Is that ironic?
No. Irony is one of the most debated figures of speech. The Oatmeal[.com] famously lamented that if anyone refers to anything as being ironic, the hip thing to do right now is to call it out as being not ironic.
Situational irony is what we tend to mean when we say something is ironic. The Oatmeal defines it as "when something happens and a reversal of expectations occurs". Dig.com's recent article on the subject uses an even stricter definition, saying "situational irony is a direct result of an action intended to produce the opposite effect". Their example is really good. If the elevators at in elevator repair school are out of order, that's not really situational irony. Instead, what would be really ironic is that if the elevators were out of order because the experts at the school had done something to them they believed would make them run forever and never be out of order. Alanis Morissette wrote a song called Ironic, whose lyrics contain situations but famously no situational irony. People love pointing this out. A traffic jam when you're already late. Not situational irony, that's just a bummer or a sad coincidence. Patrick Cassels cleverly
rewrote the song's lyrics to contain situations that are actually situationally ironic. For example, a traffic jam when you're already late to receive an award from the municipal planning board for reducing the city's automobile congestion eighty percent, or a black fly in your chardonnay poured to celebrate the successful fumigation of your recently purchased vineyard in southern France. Now that's what I call situational irony.
But regardless of what Alanis intended, a close reading of the song's lyrics reveals that irony is occurring, just not the situational kind it's hip to argue about. Instead, her song is all about dramatic irony.
When someone is, often hilariously, unaware of the significance of an event, while other people are.
Take a look at the lyrics for Ironic. The situations she describes are never explicitly labeled
ironic. At the most, they're simply stories and similes and metaphors for it: life.
And, she adds later, life is also ironic. Dramatically ironic. These things sound like cruddy scenarios, but they actually figure, they actually make sense. Ironic is not a list of examples of situational irony.
Instead, it's a treatise on dramatic irony, the difference between what life knows we need
and what we think we need. What's ironic isn't 10,000 spoons when all you need is at knife. It's the fact that, as Alanis believes, you have all of those spoons, because unbeknownst to you, but known by life, what you really need right now is only spoons. Or, the last thing you need right now is a knife.
On the subject of over analyzing pop songs, analysis of dog mitochondrial DNA has revealed that
all dogs may be traceable to a localised event. The species is believed to have resulted from the domestication of wolves about 11,000 to 16,000 years ago, in what is now Southwestern China.
So, Baha Men, to answer your question, it was the Mesolithic Southwestern Chinese who let the dogs out.
And as always, thanks for watching.
Erin Brockovich is a legal clerk and environmental activist who has a film based on her story.
"Do the crime, pay the fine" is a play on the English expression "do the crime, do the time" or "don't do the crime if you can't do the time".
"I had a dream, that one day ... " is a play on part of the I Have a Dream speech by Martin Luther King Jr.
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