Words which might be better used


It may just be my perception, but it seemed to me that the decline of “disinterested” as a distinct word foreshadowed a decline of the concept as well.


There is always the example given by precipitate and precipitous. I read a book once in which someone’s sudden decision to marry led to her precipitous wedding.

In the same book, his clothes bespoke a gentleman. (I can hear them now; they wandered into a shop and said they wanted a blond, five foot eleven, 35" inside leg, dresses to the right…)

Side by side he fought, with nobles and shopkeepers…


Yes, but what’s the word they’re trying for instead? It’s close to “signified” or “indicated”, but not exactly.


It’s perfectly clear in German too, just different: “Wenn Sie mir vorher gesagt hätten, hätte ich…”. with “would have” in both clauses, is correct and doesn’t confuse anyone. But you would need to be a good speaker to remember to translate the two “hätte(n)'s” differently into English.

“Had” suggests pluperfect (“hatte(n)” - no umlaut) rather than a counterfactual to a German.

Welsh verbs work completely differently from Romance and Germanic verbs so I’m very tolerant of tenses and moods not matching exactly in different languages. But I never could get when you do and don’t use the subjunctive in French. The rule sounds logical, but in practice it doesn’t seem to work the way I expect.


I had not perceived the simultaneity, but I think you’re right…


It does gave a secondary meaning of “be a sign of” in some online dictionaries (I just checked). I don’t know if it’s new. No time to find out. Dogs want a walk.


[quote=“Fromthecradle, post:24, topic:498, full:true”]
But I never could get when you do and don’t use the subjunctive in French. The rule sounds logical, but in practice it doesn’t seem to work the way I expect.
[/quote]I struggled, too. In the end I just did it by imitating native speakers’ usage without thinking about it too much. Or worrying about it too much, for that matter! Nobody dies if you get it wrong. Ditto for the double ‘would’ or any of the other things we’re talking about.

Anyone remember Sarah Palin saying ‘refudiate’?


While I enjoyed your tailor-made bloke fishisy, I mean fantasy, the original phrase wouldn’t have struck me as being wrong. But what with these clothes bespeaking a gentlemen and precipitous weddings, I do slightly wonder what it was you were reading… Could almost be Romance. No, surely not.


Nah, I tend to be the romance reader in this household.


No, but the trouble with French people in France is that they tend to correct you, rather than leaving you to notice, which jangles my brain. Luckily the Belgians and the Swiss don’t.

I try never to make a fuss in real life about new usages unless the meaning is unclear, or, when I was working, I knew that people would take umbrage at certain words and grammatical “errors” when I wanted them to concentrate on the message.

This thread is fun though!


There must be an answer to that, but I’m blowed if I can think of one. Where’s an inverted sheep when one needs one, eh?*

For the avoidance of doubt: reference to sheep denotes a desire to express mild bafflement and surprise in graphic format and is entirely unrelated to the concept of ‘Romance’. Look you.


Don’t they just.

Memories of a Danish friend returning from her vacances swearing profusely about ‘little French boggers of three and four using the subjenctive’. It was something that bemused her, possible for reasons related to the structure of Danish - dunno, not speaking Danish meself. It sounds like controlled vomiting.


Hack fantasy, Gus. A series admired by some people, but not a patch on the really good stuff.

8. headlong: a precipitate fall down the stairs.
9. rushing headlong or rapidly onward.
10. proceeding rapidly or with great haste: a precipitate retreat.
11. exceedingly sudden or abrupt: a precipitate stop; a precipitate decision.
12. done or made without sufficient deliberation; overhasty; rash: a precipitate marriage.


  1. of the nature of or characterized by precipices: a precipitous wall of rock.
  2. extremely or impassably steep: precipitous mountain trails.
  3. precipitate.

Precipitate has entered the dictionaries as meaning precipitous through precisely the misuse of a word which is going on in imply and infer, I suggest. When there is a perfectly good word which means something, and another word with a different meaning which sounds similar is used instead, I would tend to assume error rather than legitimate usage, myself.


The thing about the imply and infer thing is that an awful lot of people who think they get it right and are pedantic about it have got it arse about face themselves. There have been countless examples of this over the years on another board with which you will be familiar. Gets right up my goat, so it does.

Hack fantasy? I little bit of search engining (ok Google) gave me huge amounts on how to cheat at some fantasy football league hingmy and not a lot else. But I think I know the sort of thing.


Camber of Culdi, or one of the umptiwibble other sequels to Deryni Rising, Gus. There are at least fifteen of them and I am not about to read through them all looking for these minor howlers.


Slightly off-topic, but connected. People would regularly correct “supersede” to “supercede” in checking my drafts. If they insisted when I changed it back I would explain why they were wrong (from “sedere” to sit, not from “cedere” to go).


I’m sure you aren’t - but I wasn’t asking for verification, more musing on the definition of HF. Sorry.


Yup. Very wedded to supercede, some folk are - and they will not abandon it without a fight, drat them…


I had to look up “the subjunctive”. I knew I probably didn’t care. I was correct. It’s forgotten already.

If only it was to be that easy of course.


Those of us who do care would have written “If only it were to be that easy”, of course.