WORDS ARE KING to writers - THEY ARE OUR #1 PRIORITY!

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xiamenese
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Wed Apr 14, 2021 5:30 pm Post

People think English spelling is random. Actually it's morphemic—which Webster seems not to have understood!—representing not just sound but also meaning. The trouble is the that point at which the morphemes were distinct phonemically is back in the Dark and Middle Ages. "Knight" and "night" are now pronounced the same, but they weren't … 'knecht' and 'night'. Turning them both—or as far as I'm concerned, either of them—into 'nite' <ugh!>, as well as imposing phonemic spelling on much of our rich vocabulary would lose much of the richness of the language.

:)

Mark
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auxbuss
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Wed Apr 14, 2021 6:15 pm Post

xiamenese wrote:which Webster seems not to have understood!
No true Englishman would use Websters! It's in Chambers, though, fyi :-)

(Aside: Chambers dict & thesaurus apps are available on iOS, and utterly brilliant for every writer. They're the only reason I have an iPhone.)

xiamenese wrote:People think English spelling is random. Actually it's morphemic, representing not just sound but also meaning. The trouble is the that point at which the morphemes were distinct phonemically is back in the Dark and Middle Ages. "Knight" and "night" are now pronounced the same, but they weren't … 'knecht' and 'night'. Turning them both – or as far as I'm concerned, either of them – into 'nite' <ugh!>, as well as imposing phonemic spelling on much of our rich vocabulary would lose much of the richness of the language.
Here, here.

And on yet another aside, I once had a conversation with a good native Aberdonian friend – on the streets of Aberdeen, as it happens – where we became confused because of my pronunciation of whales and Wales: the Aberdonians aspirate (as do many other Scots, no doubt). They also abide.

And regarding knecht and night: as the say up there in the frozen wastelands:

"It's a braw bricht moonlicht the nicht."

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xiamenese
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Wed Apr 14, 2021 9:13 pm Post

auxbuss wrote:<snip> …

(Aside: Chambers dict & thesaurus apps are available on iOS, and utterly brilliant for every writer. They're the only reason I have an iPhone.)

<snip>

As any (British) crossword-buff knows, Chambers is the dictionary to have! And Chambers Dictionary and Thesaurus are available for MacOS too. I don't think they integrate with Dictionary.app, but they load up a small window in which you can switch backwards and forwards between the two, and if you have copied a word onto the clipboard, that word is found automatically.

:D

Mark
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Thu Apr 15, 2021 11:59 pm Post

I'll read conlangs all day. They're fun. Tried to learn Vong once. I added it to the spellchecker as needed. Sure, conlangs can be over-used, but that's choice for the author. My Klingon is pitiful, but I'll read Hamlet in it as soon as I can find it.

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kewms
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Fri Apr 16, 2021 12:58 am Post

auxbuss wrote:
xiamenese wrote:which Webster seems not to have understood!
No true Englishman would use Websters! It's in Chambers, though, fyi :-)


Americans, of course, are required to pretend that no alternatives to Webster exist. :D

Katherine
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Ahab
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Fri Apr 16, 2021 10:34 am Post

kewms wrote:
auxbuss wrote:
xiamenese wrote:which Webster seems not to have understood!
No true Englishman would use Websters! It's in Chambers, though, fyi :-)


Americans, of course, are required to pretend that no alternatives to Webster exist. :D

Katherine


As ever, Two Nations Divided by a Common Language.

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sirmichaelot
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Wed Apr 28, 2021 2:24 pm Post

I think this is a classic example of believing content is more important than story. I'll venture to disagree with the OP here and say what should be obvious--Story Is King.

Oh, I've heard the counter arguments for years, "What is story without content? What is ...?" :roll: Sure. World-building, cultures, new worlds, etc. I get the "necessity" of such new words and glossaries in the creations in Epic Fantasy, Space Opera, etc., but at some point necessity hits against the wall of practicality every time.

There are further more arguments in defense of this behavior invoking Shakespeare and his prolific word creation. In truth, the more you study Shakespeare, the more you understand how so many of his words became mainstream through rhythm, simplicity, word-play, expression, and him being tapped in to the understanding of populace of his day. History is witness that language evolves to favor expression economy--where the most simplified, useful, or expressive words (even phrases over words) become the preference in daily use.

Two examples:
1) The F-word has so much use, because it can literally mean anything by context.
*Something bad happens* "Oh f---!"
*Something amazing happens* "Oh F---!"
You know the difference by context alone. You can hear it in your mind. F---'s utility is high. Does this make it low brow? To some. But a skilled writer can make it characteristic, even universal and inventive. Motherf---er evolved along with some many other uses. After all F--- is Neil Gaiman's favorite word for a reason.

2) When's the last time you heard pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis? Have you ever? It is completely unused--even in it's community setting--because of its difficult utility, over-complication, and actual pretentiousness in creating an intellectual club for those who know it, use it, etc.. The obvious preference instead of this word, which means the same thing, is phrasal: "chronic lung disease caused by the inhalation of volcanic dust." When definitions are easier than words, words die.

Thus: Words are not everything. They are NOT our priority. Expression, emotion, and conveyance matter far more to a work.This means an author is often acting as a translator between their world and ours. Compromises must be made. Even Tolkien knew this. But so many are the next Tolkien, despite the reality that most will never care to create such a vast vast glossary, and further still most will never care to read it.

I am a Tolkien fan. Friends of mine are more hardcore than I am. Yet, most still would not make his works and vast lore the subject of their preferred reading and understanding, because the payoff is too small. It's a small token in the community of Geekdom to be the expert debating other "experts", which 99.99999% of the general public couldn't care less about it. And then it hits this reality: Who made the actual money? The Experts or the Translators to masses? The latter group, because they're the ones who made Tolkien's vast work more accessible.

So, write what you love, but don't believe that your intellect needs to be paraded before the world in a vast new word count glossary. That's not writing. That's stroking one's ego.