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EDICHC
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Words That Make No Sense At All in English

Thu Aug 25, 2011 11:45 am

Seeing some of the threads posted recently regarding the correct use of similar words got me thinking, even when used or spelled correctly the English language often makes no sense. Some examples are as follows...

Why are apartments called so when they are all stuck together?

In a sports stadium that has both seats and terraces, you sit in the Stand and stand on the terraces. Why is that?

When a Doctor or Lawyer conduct themselves in their profession, they call it practice. Why? When are they going to start for real?

Why is a person who invests your money called a broker?

Why is abbreviation such a long word?

Any other wonderful examples of the absurdity of the English language?
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BAViscount
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Words That Make No Sense At All in English

Thu Aug 25, 2011 12:21 pm

How about the fact that "flammable" and "inflammable" both mean exactly the same thing, given that you would actually expect "inflammable" to be the opposite of "flammable"?!

[Edited 2011-08-25 05:22:37]
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EDICHC
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Words That Make No Sense At All in English

Thu Aug 25, 2011 12:25 pm

Quoting BAViscount (Reply 1):

Great! More of the same please!
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Moose135
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Words That Make No Sense At All in English

Thu Aug 25, 2011 12:45 pm

You park in your driveway, and drive on the parkway...
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AustrianZRH
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Words That Make No Sense At All in English

Thu Aug 25, 2011 2:02 pm

Quoting EDICHC (Thread starter):
Why is a person who invests your money called a broker?

Because after you trust a broker to invest your money, you're broke? 

The US expression "I could care less" instead of "I couldn't care less" always comes to my mind. If you could care less, why don't you? You actually care?!
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Moose135
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Words That Make No Sense At All in English

Thu Aug 25, 2011 2:38 pm

Quoting AustrianZRH (Reply 4):
The US expression "I could care less" instead of "I couldn't care less" always comes to my mind.

That's not an unusual expression, that's just poor grammar. Which is an entirely different thread altogether...
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jay84egnr
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Words That Make No Sense At All in English

Thu Aug 25, 2011 4:34 pm

Quoting BAViscount (Reply 1):

This one has confused me too for years, 'inflammable' just seems to contradict itself, but after some thought it does make some sense.

This is my understanding.

The preposition 'in' has other uses / meanings, for example it can mean 'to apply or impose'. To say 'to impose doctrine', we say 'indoctrinate. Similarly 'to apply flame' is 'inflame', thus converting the noun 'flame' into the verb 'inflame'.

The noun 'flame' can also be converted to an adjective by adding 'able' to give 'flammable' (a passive term: able to burn).

In this case the verb 'inflame' has been converted into the adjective 'inflammable', meaning capable of being 'inflamed'.

Of course all 'flammable' substances should be capable of being 'inflamed'. IMO inflammable is the more 'active' version used to describe things that will burn readily with minimal flame, such as petrol vapour, hydrogen and paper etc, as opposed to 'flammable' things like lumps of coal.

Anyway i still think 'inflammable' is pointless but can understand how it became.

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casinterest
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Words That Make No Sense At All in English

Thu Aug 25, 2011 4:45 pm

Quoting EDICHC (Thread starter):
Any other wonderful examples of the absurdity of the English language?

Why do we call it rush hour, when the cars barely move?

Why when we send stuff by Cars do we call it Shipments, and when we send it by ships or airplanes, we call it cargo?

Pro is the opposite of con, so congress must be the opposite of progress right?
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BAViscount
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Words That Make No Sense At All in English

Thu Aug 25, 2011 5:39 pm

Quoting jay84egnr (Reply 6):
This one has confused me too for years, 'inflammable' just seems to contradict itself, but after some thought it does make some sense.

"Luke C" has an interesting explanation on Yahoo Answers - it seems we can blame Latin for the confusion! :

http://uk.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080309041349AA7DRFz

I quote his post:

Blame it on Latin and its tricky prefixes. In the beginning, there was "inflammable," a perfectly nice English word based on the Latin "inflammare," meaning "to kindle," from "in" (in) plus "flamma" (flame). "Inflammable" became standard English in the 16th century. So far, so good.

Comes the 19th century, and some well-meaning soul dreamt up the word "flammable," basing it on a slightly different Latin word, "flammare," meaning "to set on fire." There was nothing terribly wrong with "flammable," but it never really caught on. After all, we already had "inflammable," so "flammable" pretty much died out in the 1800's.

"But wait," you say, "I saw 'flammable' just the other day." Indeed you did. "Flammable" came back, one of the few successful instances of social engineering of language.

The Latin prefix "in," while it sometimes means just "in" (as in "inflammable"), more often turns up in English words meaning "not" (as in "invisible" -- "not visible"). After World War Two, safety officials on both sides of the Atlantic decided that folks were too likely to see "inflammable" and decide that the word meant "fireproof," so various agencies set about encouraging the revival of "flammable" as a substitute. The campaign seems to have worked, and "inflammable" has all but disappeared.

That left what to call something that was not likely to burst into flames, but here the process of linguistic renovation was easier. "Non-flammable" is a nice, comforting word, and besides, it's far easier on the tongue than its now thankfully obsolete precursor, "non-inflammable."
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EDICHC
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Words That Make No Sense At All in English

Thu Aug 25, 2011 6:18 pm

Quoting casinterest (Reply 7):
Pro is the opposite of con, so congress must be the opposite of progress right?

Love that one! Is it a case of being too close to the truth for comfort?
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BAViscount
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Words That Make No Sense At All in English

Sat Aug 27, 2011 11:15 pm

Shame this thread seems to be dying...let me see if I can give it a bit of a jump start!

This may not be exactly what you were looking for EDICHC, but how about the fact that we say "double u double u double u" when it's actually quicker and easier to say "world wide web"?!
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dw747400
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Words That Make No Sense At All in English

Sat Aug 27, 2011 11:25 pm

When I see "Don't try this at home" on TV, does it mean I can give it a shot at work?

I guess that's a phrase... not a word...

[Edited 2011-08-27 16:25:29]
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EDICHC
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Words That Make No Sense At All in English

Sun Aug 28, 2011 10:24 am

Quoting dw747400 (Reply 11):
I guess that's a phrase... not a word...

Who gives a damn, as long as it's funny and in the gist of the thread?

A phrase that comes to my mind that makes no sense is 'cheap at half the price' to suggest something in inexpensive. Well if it is cheap at half the price then it is by definition double a cheap price, so therefore not cheap.
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BAViscount
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Words That Make No Sense At All in English

Sun Aug 28, 2011 1:52 pm

When I was a kid the only liquid I ever drank (apart from milk and tea!) was fruit squash. For those of you who live in countries that don't have "squash", it's basically a fruit syrup that comes in a myriad of flavours to which you add water to make a refreshing drink for kids young and old, although when I was a kid there was really only orange or lemon flavour, and if you were well off, Blackcurrant Ribena!

What I'm leading up to here is that on every bottle of squash were printed these words: "Dilute to taste". To my young mind this always meant that if you didn't add water to it, it would have no flavour so you wouldn't be able to taste it! Obviously what it actually means is that you add as little or as much water as you like, according to your own personal taste...but then you probably knew that anyway! Even now "Dilute to taste" seems like a strange choice of words and in fact, looking at a couple of bottles of squash I have in the house now, those words have been replaced with a suggestion to add one part squash to four parts water. Maybe other people were as thick as I was! 
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andz
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Words That Make No Sense At All in English

Sun Aug 28, 2011 5:50 pm

The one I never got is... "bite me"

Quoting BAViscount (Reply 13):
Blackcurrant Ribena

There's a flashback to my childhood.... that and dandelion & burdock!

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EddieDude
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Words That Make No Sense At All in English

Sun Aug 28, 2011 6:00 pm

Mods, please delete.

[Edited 2011-08-28 11:01:22]
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Words That Make No Sense At All in English

Mon Aug 29, 2011 12:57 am

I love that feet smell and noses run.

There was a thread on this a few years back - quite amusing!  Puzzling Question (by DLKAPA Jun 28 2004 in Non Aviation)

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flybaurlax
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Words That Make No Sense At All in English

Mon Aug 29, 2011 4:17 am

Quoting BAViscount (Reply 13):
Dilute to taste

When I was little my friend's sister would immediately put a bottle of juice in the refrigerator without drinking it after she had opened it, because it said "refrigerate after opening."

I guess she took it literally.
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baroque
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Words That Make No Sense At All in English

Mon Aug 29, 2011 4:34 am

Quoting EDICHC (Reply 12):
A phrase that comes to my mind that makes no sense is 'cheap at half the price' to suggest something in inexpensive. Well if it is cheap at half the price then it is by definition double a cheap price, so therefore not cheap.

No you cannot run that one in print, you need to hear it and see the expression. It usually means exactly the opposite, at half the price it would still be expensive.

Along the lines of "cheaper for a week than a fortnight". As in heck this is expensive and at half the price, it would still be expensive. But sayings are a bit different from your initial line.

The con-flict about Con and congress is because they stem from two different latin words

Con - against from contra.

Congress - from "cum" meaning with.

Strange, but not really a conflict. And that is it, pro tem.
 
BAViscount
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RE: Words That Make No Sense At All In English

Mon Aug 29, 2011 12:05 pm

Quoting Baroque (Reply 18):
No you cannot run that one in print, you need to hear it and see the expression. It usually means exactly the opposite, at half the price it would still be expensive.

Yes you're right, it's usually said with a hint of sarcasm! Would I be right in saying that originally the phrase was "Cheap at twice the price"?
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Quokka
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RE: Words That Make No Sense At All In English

Mon Aug 29, 2011 1:00 pm

Quoting BAViscount (Reply 19):
Would I be right in saying that originally the phrase was "Cheap at twice the price"?

That sounds like it might come straight out of "Never Mind The Quality, Feel The Width ", but it would make more sense.
 
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RE: Words That Make No Sense At All In English

Mon Aug 29, 2011 1:00 pm

Quoting BAViscount (Reply 1):
How about the fact that "flammable" and "inflammable" both mean exactly the same thing, given that you would actually expect "inflammable" to be the opposite of "flammable"?!

"Inflammable means flammable? Boy, what a country!" - Dr. Nick Riviera (forget which "Simpsons" episode)

Quoting flybaurlax (Reply 17):
When I was little my friend's sister would immediately put a bottle of juice in the refrigerator without drinking it after she had opened it, because it said "refrigerate after opening."

I guess she took it literally.

I like the stuff that says "do not use if safety seal is broken" even though the only possible way to use it is to break the seal.

One question I've been wondering for a long time: Why do people ride in a car, but on a plane/train/bus?
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notaxonrotax
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RE: Words That Make No Sense At All In English

Mon Aug 29, 2011 1:30 pm

Not a word, but a phrase:

"Never say never".........

How can you say "never" (the 1st one I mean, in the forbidding sense) when the whole point of the phrase is to urge people to NOT use the word "never" in that sense.........shouldn´t it be something like "hardly ever say never"?

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baroque
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RE: Words That Make No Sense At All In English

Mon Aug 29, 2011 1:46 pm

Quoting BAViscount (Reply 19):
Quoting Baroque (Reply 18):
No you cannot run that one in print, you need to hear it and see the expression. It usually means exactly the opposite, at half the price it would still be expensive.

Yes you're right, it's usually said with a hint of sarcasm! Would I be right in saying that originally the phrase was "Cheap at twice the price"?

That could be, but even at my extreme age (a matter on which an a.netter in "Civil"* Av chose to remind me today!!!) I cannot remember it being other than being the sarcastic half version - maybe that is just those I associate with of course.

Quoting Quokka (Reply 20):
Quoting BAViscount (Reply 19):
Would I be right in saying that originally the phrase was "Cheap at twice the price"?

That sounds like it might come straight out of "Never Mind The Quality, Feel The Width ", but it would make more sense.

And would that be along the immortal line from Are you being served of "It will ride up/down with wear"?

*Civil. Now there is a word when applied to engineers that is a bit of a paradox. My late brother was a Civil Engineer, and not noted for being too much of the former although he seemed to be pretty good at the latter.
 
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RE: Words That Make No Sense At All In English

Mon Aug 29, 2011 1:49 pm

Quoting Baroque (Reply 18):
Congress - from "cum" meaning with.

Strange, but not really a conflict. And that is it, pro tem.

True, but it doesn't make it any less funny.
But it is also why we confer to talk amongst our selves,
and contest amongst partricipants.


....
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RE: Words That Make No Sense At All In English

Mon Aug 29, 2011 2:09 pm

Quoting andz (Reply 14):
The one I never got is... "bite me"

...quite literally it's slang for F*** Off

Why is it an eggplant if it's not made out of egg?
Why is it a peanut if it's neither a pea nor a nut?
Why is it a hamburger if its not made out of ham? (Hamburg...I know)
Why is it a hotdog if there's nothing canine about it?
Why is it called pineapple if it's not an apple and doesn't grow on pines?
Is cheese the plural of choose?
One mouse, 2 mice. One louse, 2 lice. One house, 2 hice?
If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?
Why are fat chance and slim chance the same when fat and slim are opposites?
War never determines who's right; just who's left.
Why do people play at a recital and recite at a play?
Why is a boxing ring square? Isn't a ring round (ring)?
Why is it that when a house burns up, it burns down?
Why do you get in/out of a car, but on/off a bus/airplane?
Why do we say original copy? is it original or is it a copy?
Why do we say new and improved? is it new, it's not improved and vice versa.

That's enough for now! 
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baroque
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RE: Words That Make No Sense At All In English

Mon Aug 29, 2011 2:09 pm

Quoting casinterest (Reply 24):
True, but it doesn't make it any less funny.
But it is also why we confer to talk amongst our selves, and contest amongst participants.

Well it does come from laffin as in laffin and grief
 
airtrainer
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RE: Words That Make No Sense At All In English

Tue Aug 30, 2011 3:05 pm

Quoting jay84egnr (Reply 6):

Flammable translated in french : inflammable  
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baroque
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RE: Words That Make No Sense At All In English

Tue Aug 30, 2011 3:11 pm

Quoting einsteinboricua (Reply 25):
einsteinboricua

Not 15 love, 30 love and 40 love but game, set and match?
 
luckyone
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RE: Words That Make No Sense At All In English

Tue Aug 30, 2011 4:05 pm

Quoting andz (Reply 14):
The one I never got is... "bite me"

It's a derogatory phrase that implies ones mouth is in certain, sensitive locales, indicating that one is subservient to another. Now WHY somebody would suggest another bite their genitals is an entirely different matter.
 
ozglobal
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RE: Words That Make No Sense At All In English

Tue Aug 30, 2011 4:15 pm

Quoting moose135 (Reply 5):
Quoting AustrianZRH (Reply 4):
The US expression "I could care less" instead of "I couldn't care less" always comes to my mind.

That's not an unusual expression, that's just poor grammar.

Whilst there are US expressions I like, this is one of the most irritating Americanisms. The perfectly clear phrase exists in all English speaking countries as, "I couldn't care less." Why do Americans all say the opposite, "I COULD care less"? Is it not self evidently meaningless?

Another Americanism that bugs me, "Back in the day...." ?! What 'day'? The expression was, 'Back in the OLD days...."?

What time is it? "Ten of 12"   
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luckyone
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RE: Words That Make No Sense At All In English

Tue Aug 30, 2011 4:22 pm

Quoting OzGlobal (Reply 30):
What time is it? "Ten of 12"  

Makes more sense than the Spanish "Five hours minus fifteen..." so um...negative ten hours??? 
 
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RE: Words That Make No Sense At All In English

Tue Aug 30, 2011 4:27 pm

Quoting BAViscount (Reply 13):
"Dilute to taste". To my young mind this always meant that if you didn't add water to it, it would have no flavour so you wouldn't be able to taste it!

Hee hee. That reminds me of when I was small and thought that the words "Serve Chilled" on a beverage actually read "Severe Chilled" and it was warning you of this dangerously cold beverage.  
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Starbuk7
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RE: Words That Make No Sense At All In English

Tue Aug 30, 2011 4:40 pm

Growing up when they would say "Don't drink and drive" I thought you weren't supposed to drink anything while driving since at that early age I know nothing about alcohol.

Lets go out and get some "Jumbo" shrimp for dinner.
 
aero145
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RE: Words That Make No Sense At All In English

Tue Aug 30, 2011 4:44 pm

Quoting einsteinboricua (Reply 25):
Why is it an eggplant if it's not made out of egg?

Because the first fruit (the white “egg”plant variety) which was named “eggplant” resembles an egg:

Quoting einsteinboricua (Reply 25):
Why is it a peanut if it's neither a pea nor a nut?

Because it tastes more like a nut than a pea but is a legume and therefore closely related to a pea.

Quoting einsteinboricua (Reply 25):
Why is a boxing ring square? Isn't a ring round (ring)?

Because originally, it was a ring, but then evolved to a square albeit keeping its original name.
 
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Asturias
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RE: Words That Make No Sense At All In English

Tue Aug 30, 2011 6:35 pm

A bird can fly, but why can't a fly bird?

ast.
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bhill
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RE: Words That Make No Sense At All In English

Tue Aug 30, 2011 6:46 pm

"starting a tradition"
Carpe Pices
 
EDICHC
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RE: Words That Make No Sense At All In English

Fri Sep 02, 2011 10:38 pm

Quoting Asturias (Reply 35):
A bird can fly, but why can't a fly bird?

So if a fly is an insect with wings, why isn't there an insect without wings called a walk?
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wukka
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RE: Words That Make No Sense At All In English

Sat Sep 03, 2011 11:34 am

Quoting aero145 (Reply 34):
Because the first fruit (the white “egg”plant variety) which was named “eggplant” resembles an egg:
Quoting aero145 (Reply 34):
Because it tastes more like a nut than a pea but is a legume and therefore closely related to a pea.
Quoting aero145 (Reply 34):
Because originally, it was a ring, but then evolved to a square albeit keeping its original name.

You clearly don't understand the point of this thread. Way to go (oogle)!
We can agree to disagree.
 
aero145
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RE: Words That Make No Sense At All In English

Sat Sep 03, 2011 1:32 pm

Quoting wukka (Reply 38):
You clearly don't understand the point of this thread.

I clearly understand the point of this thread – some things in English *really* don’t make sense, those are, in my opinion, not one of those, hence the explanations. Many things cannot be explained, those very easily can.

Quoting wukka (Reply 38):
Way to go (oogle)!

Those actually were things I learned a long time ago, elsewhere than Google, so, offence taken. Feel free to back me up.
 
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einsteinboricua
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RE: Words That Make No Sense At All In English

Sat Sep 03, 2011 4:11 pm

Quoting luckyone (Reply 31):
Makes more sense than the Spanish "Five hours minus fifteen..." so um...negative ten hours??? 

Actually, I've noticed that both Spanish and French say it's 'X' minus 'Y'...English says 'Y' to 'X'...it's still the same.

Son las 5 menos cuarto (15)
Il est 5 heures moins le quart (15)
It's 15 to 5.

All refer to 4:45.
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wukka
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RE: Words That Make No Sense At All In English

Sun Sep 04, 2011 9:37 am

Quoting aero145 (Reply 39):
Those actually were things I learned a long time ago, elsewhere than Google, so, offence taken. Feel free to back me up.

Dude... you flatlined an otherwise fun thread! Gee-willikers! Sorry you took offense to pointing out that you killed a fun thread. Bummer, man. Have fun with the offense that you took from me!  

Shall I point out why a parkway is a parkway and an apartment is actually an apartment?!? Damn!
We can agree to disagree.
 
luckyone
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RE: Words That Make No Sense At All In English

Wed Sep 07, 2011 1:20 am

Quoting einsteinboricua (Reply 40):
Actually, I've noticed that both Spanish and French say it's 'X' minus 'Y'...English says 'Y' to 'X'...it's still the same.

Son las 5 menos cuarto (15)
Il est 5 heures moins le quart (15)
It's 15 to 5.

All refer to 4:45.

Yeah I'm well aware of what it means   The point of the thread is odd wordings. Despite knowing full well what it means, it still sounds odd to me.
 
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nighthawk
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RE: Words That Make No Sense At All In English

Wed Sep 07, 2011 7:23 am

Quoting einsteinboricua (Reply 40):
Actually, I've noticed that both Spanish and French say it's 'X' minus 'Y'...English says 'Y' to 'X'...it's still the same.

this is true in many European languages, and probably many others around the world. I remember confusing a few folk at an a.net meet by saying "seven fifteen". Did I mean 7:15 or 6:45...
 
Fabo
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RE: Words That Make No Sense At All In English

Sun Sep 11, 2011 1:42 am

Quoting wukka (Reply 41):
Shall I point out why a parkway is a parkway and an apartment is actually an apartment?!? Damn!We can agree to disagree.

Well, why not make it educational on top of funny?
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RE: Words That Make No Sense At All In English

Sun Sep 11, 2011 1:51 pm

Quoting BAViscount (Reply 10):
we say "double u double u double u" when it's actually quicker and easier to say "world wide web"?!

Why is it double u, when the letter actually is double v....

In Swedish it is double v, and we skip the double for WWW and just say V V V since we all know what we are referring to anyway
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andz
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RE: Words That Make No Sense At All In English

Sun Sep 11, 2011 2:37 pm

In the UK when I was growing up, "half two" meant 2:30

In Afrikaans, "half-twee" (half two) means 1:30.
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RE: Words That Make No Sense At All In English

Sun Sep 11, 2011 3:15 pm

Quoting einsteinboricua (Reply 25):
Why is it an eggplant if it's not made out of egg?

Let's just call them aubergines instead then  

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steffenbn
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RE: Words That Make No Sense At All In English

Sun Sep 11, 2011 3:33 pm

Quoting andz (Reply 46):
In the UK when I was growing up, "half two" meant 2:30

You do meen half past two right?? i have never heard of half two!

Quoting Fabo (Reply 44):
Franz hadn't yet learned the art of subtlety.
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einsteinboricua
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RE: Words That Make No Sense At All In English

Sun Sep 11, 2011 3:46 pm

Quoting johnkrist (Reply 45):
Why is it double u, when the letter actually is double v....

It depends on how you write it. My W's are curved at the bottom so they look like double u's instead of double v's.
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