I don't think it means what you think it means...

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irishwhistle
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18 Mar 2011, 2:41 am

Decimate - definition: well... actually...

It seems that the dictionaries around the web have accepted the modern evolution of this word. It now means pretty much what everyone uses it for, which is a little disappointing since I just came here to complain about its misuse by a dude in a short documentary about a deadly tornado back in the 1920s, in which he said the tornado had decimated 90% of the city. It originally meant to kill or destroy 1/10th of something, essentially, so this would have been a problem (verbally, obviously it was a problem to the city in question).

But...

There is a usage note on Dictionary.com that at least justifies my complaint this once:

—Usage note
The earliest English sense of decimate is “to select by lot and execute every tenth soldier of (a unit).” The extended sense “destroy a great number or proportion of” developed in the 19th century: Cholera decimated the urban population. Because the etymological sense of one-tenth remains to some extent, decimate is not ordinarily used with exact fractions or percentages: Drought has destroyed (not decimated ) nearly 80 percent of the cattle.

Alright, I know I'm not the only word cop here... Yeah, I use the language pretty poorly myself, absolutely, but there are some words that really need to stop being said, either in certain forms or by certain people. My daughter, age 13, is a serious offender... Everything lately is RANDOM! Not random, no... RANDOM!

Next!


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Tensu
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18 Mar 2011, 2:51 am

You think decimate is bad, you should see what they've done to "chaos".

And don't even get me started on "irony"!



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18 Mar 2011, 8:51 am

It also confuses me the way that the definition of words have changed over the years.


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DeadCow
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18 Mar 2011, 9:02 am

Things change.

Deal with it.



Zen
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18 Mar 2011, 9:07 am

I hate when people overuse words like "random". No, if you're doing it intentionally, it's not random. :wall:

And yes, Tensu. I can't sit through Alannis Morrisette's "Isn't it ironic?" without saying "NO, IT IS NOT," throughout the entire thing. That song causes me so much anxiety. :lol:

I keep seeing people using the word "weary" instead of "wary". Two entirely different things.

But then, I probably drive people nuts with my incomplete sentences and my insistence on putting punctuation outside of quotes when it's not part of the quote itself. It's just more logical to me that way. I don't care what Strunk & White say.

I remember learning that about "decimate" when I was a kid. It was a form of military discipline. When Roman soldiers got out of line, they were divided into groups of 10 and the guy in each group who drew the bad lot was killed.



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18 Mar 2011, 10:13 am

The word, gay used to mean happy and now it means something else.


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irishwhistle
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18 Mar 2011, 10:29 am

DeadCow wrote:
Things change.

Deal with it.


Congratulations! It doesn't bother you. But Aspies are famous for not coping well with change. Might want to think before you post again here. Most of us aren't interested in being told to get over ourselves in order to make others feel superior. Many come here to find, for a change, some one who won't tell them to get over it. Think about it. I'm not saying this to be helpful, I must admit. That was an irritating reply.

I still haven't got my head around irony. Just when I think I've got it down, it turns out I've just found another thing that it isn't. I know it isn't coincidence, however, and that's a very common use for it.

Chaos... I'll work on that one. I'm sure I'm an offender. :lol:


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draelynn
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18 Mar 2011, 10:54 am

Apocalypse - definitely does not mean what most people think it means.

Ironic vs sardonic. Most people use ironic interchangably with sardonic but have no idea what sardonic means!



Ambivalence
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18 Mar 2011, 5:45 pm

It's the unravelling, and it undoes all the joy that could be. :wink:


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patiz
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18 Mar 2011, 7:02 pm

DeadCow wrote:
Things change.

Deal with it.


You change if you want to, the lady is not for changing :D



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18 Mar 2011, 7:29 pm

I find the evolution of words fascinating. Like glamour and grammar - both were originally connected with magic and the occult and medieval grammarians were looked upon with suspicion. It's the evolution of terms and sounds that ultimately give rise to new languages. I wouldn't have a job if there were no such thing as linguistic evolution.



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18 Mar 2011, 7:45 pm

DeadCow wrote:
Things change.

Deal with it.


The Buddha couldn't have put it better. Impermanence is the nature of all things. 8)


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irishwhistle
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18 Mar 2011, 8:22 pm

Moog wrote:
DeadCow wrote:
Things change.

Deal with it.


The Buddha couldn't have put it better. Impermanence is the nature of all things. 8)


Well, you put it better, so why couldn't the Buddha? :wink:

Is it really so bad to post about words that get on a person's nerves? It's sort of individual opinion, isn't it? I don't sit around and mope about etymology and the death of meanings, but sometimes I'd like a word to mean what it used to because there's no word that quite means the same thing. There's no word I know that matches the old definition of "gay" for example. It doesn't just mean "happy." It takes several words to fill the void.

Let us whine in peace.


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The world loves diversity... as long as it's pretty, makes them look smart and doesn't put them out in any way.

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18 Mar 2011, 8:36 pm

irishwhistle wrote:
Moog wrote:
DeadCow wrote:
Things change.

Deal with it.


The Buddha couldn't have put it better. Impermanence is the nature of all things. 8)


Well, you put it better, so why couldn't the Buddha? :wink:

Is it really so bad to post about words that get on a person's nerves? It's sort of individual opinion, isn't it? I don't sit around and mope about etymology and the death of meanings, but sometimes I'd like a word to mean what it used to because there's no word that quite means the same thing. There's no word I know that matches the old definition of "gay" for example. It doesn't just mean "happy." It takes several words to fill the void.

Let us whine in peace.


Sorry, I don't have a problem with your thread. It's just not very often that I see someone posting Buddhist wisdom, even if it perhaps wasn't intended to be very nice.

Having 'le mot juste' is very important to me, I like to have specific words for every specific nuance of a thing.

I was looking at an article the other day that suggested that in cultures that have more words for variations on colour (for example), the people who speak those languages actually discern more discrete colours than people of cultures that have fewer words. Language can shape how we perceive reality. A thing without a word often cannot be communicated between people, and then between those people, it does not exist.

I think that's something that is so interesting and chilling about Orwell's 1984. The fewer words we have, the less full our reality becomes, until all we have is a very narrow and grey realm of existence.

Happymusic mentioned magic, which I find to be a very interesting subject, and I'm led to believe that all the very first books were grimoires. We still 'spell' words today. And there's no magic more black than withering a person's ability to give name to thoughts, it reduces a person's power to exist to their fullest.

Of course, we can go the other way and find ourselves indulging in awful purple prose about everything, or using mounds of words to muffle and obscure communication. Like any tool, language can be used for good or 'evil'.

Well, this was a fun ramble, but I think I'll stop now.


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irishwhistle
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19 Mar 2011, 12:17 am

Deep stuff... shoot, I was just thinking that since I can't get the knack of nonverbal stuff, I'd rather not have to navigate too many changes in the verbal area, especially since I'm trying to write a book or seven...

And because I'm a closet know-it-all, I really thought I'd caught a journalist in a mistake. They make 'em. I'd figured people usually meant devastate when they said decimate. But the dictionaries back up the common usage.

Eh, well. I like people to be clear but not too boring in news stories... a wicked standard to live up to considering the volume of news produced.

I was mostly griping about the cow, by the way... You put it much better. The Cow's inclusion of "deal with it" was self-superior and petty all at once. The concept I agree with. But goodness knows this isn't the place to expect a lot of people to be happy with changes! :lol:


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"Pack up my head, I'm goin' to Paris!" - P.W.

The world loves diversity... as long as it's pretty, makes them look smart and doesn't put them out in any way.

There's the road, and the road less traveled, and then there's MY road.