Catalog / protolog versus Catalogue / protologue

Robin Leech releech at TELUSPLANET.NET
Thu Jun 20 11:21:23 CDT 2002

Fellow Taxacomers,

Everyone in the Americas - North and South Americans - are Americans.  The
people of the US of A are Yewessians or Unitedstatesians.  A Mexican is an
American.  A Canadian is an American.  A Chilean is an American. The same
kind of argument/logic covers the Europeans or Asians or Africans.

English does change on its own over time.  Note the differences between
Chaucer's English and Shakespeare's English and our present-day English.  My
Mother, who taught English, use to tell me that if 85% of the people say and
write, "It don't make no difference.", then I am being pedantic by clinging
to "It doesn't make any difference."  Thus, even though I am grammatically
correct, I am out of date.  I used to counter that the example she used is
simply poor English.  She countered that it is still a change, no matter how
I look at it.

But, English also takes in other words from anywhere as the need occurs.
Witness the following:
ad hoc
carte blanche
manyana (Outlet Express does not have a tilda to put over the 'n')
moccasin (into Canadian English from Algonquian)
kayak (into Canadian English from the Inuit)
liaison (and the recently manufactured verb, liaise)
a la carte
kaolin (into English from Chinese kaoling)
Canada (into English from the Iroquois word "kanata" meaning village)

And thousands more.  These aspects are the dynamic aspects of English.  That
if the word or expression or emotional sense does not exist in English, we
borrow it somewhere.  If it does not exist anywhere, we create a new word,
such as "liaise".  I am sure the French must cringe when they hear "liaise".

Am I out of date when I insist that "data are" (rather than "data is")?  I
have seen "This data is..." in many scientific journals, AND a major
computer guide books such as that for MS Word.  Does this mean that these
other scientists are right in their English use?  I hope not.  Until I
retired this year, I told my students that they are to use "data are" and
"datum is" until such time as they see "These datas are..." (which I dubbed
a 'pluraling of a plural').  At that point, they can use whatever they want,
and I will give up this particular fight to "hang onto" good English.  Where
and when do we distinguish between poor use (as in "It don't make..."), call
it as such and not change, and a use that is a change in meaning (as in
aggravate meaning to make worse vs to annoy or irritate)?

Robin Leech, Edmonton, Alberta

----- Original Message -----
From: "Paul L.Th. Beuk" <beuk at SCIENCE.UVA.NL>
Sent: Thursday, June 20, 2002 7:18 AM
Subject: Re: Catalog / protolog versus Catalogue / protologue

> Christian and Richard,
> >"American" English is more sucessful that English English because it
> >And this is why French is no longer the "International" language it
> >once was as >it refused to adapt. Languages, like species, need to
> >adapt, change, etc., to
> >survive.
> The analogy with species evolution holds in more ways than the one
> you mention: not all evolutionary changes are beneficial to species
> but that does necessarily mean they are harmful: Not all evolutionary
> novelties are driven by need to change. The same applies in language.
> >The English insist on holding to the French which William brought over
> >Normandy a thousand years ago.
> Basically, nothing wrong with that, at least we know what we are
> talking about. That is the same reason why we generally do not change
> species names (even if they are 'biologically wrong').
> >*I say "Americans" but really the vast amount of change in the "English"
> >being driven by all non-English users of the English language. But due to
> >American dominance in new technologies, communications, etc., we are
> >appropriately blamed to the good and bad of that evolution!
> The main culprits probably are 'the media'. Most non-American and
> non-English users of the English language increase their knowledge of
> what they consider to be English by listening to the radio, watching
> television, surfing the Internet, etc. All of these are dominated by
> content originating from America so it does make sense  that American
> English dominates (ask any Dutch teacher trying to teach his or her
> students English English).
> >So, why hold onto a thousand year old vestigial appendix? drop the
> >"ue" It is a matter of evolution and progress, not simply wanting to be
> >different.
> Let's follow the rule: The creator of the terminology decides at
> first. If we then let evolution run its course, the Brits (and
> French?) will probably reintroduce the -ue as a reversal in language
> evolution and use it until it becomes a liability when they drop it
> a.s.a.p.!
> Cheers,
> Paul

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