Share good ideas and conversation.   Login, Join Us, or Take a Tour!
comment by kleinbl00
kleinbl00  ·  249 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Hubski, I have a language question

That's the exact problem.

If you aren't 100% certain 100% of your audience understands what you're saying, you have 0 reason to go out on a limb.

The fact that the slang cannot be written in an instantly recognizable way is why it will never catch on. If you can't text it, meme it, snapchat it, or otherwise disseminate it amongst your posse, your posse will use other terminology. Should some break-out cultural phenomenon lay claim to it, we might all be subjected to it... but we will then all be subjected to whatever fucked-up syntax was first to popularity (pwning, hodling).

tacocat  ·  249 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I lost a little tangent about the difference between spoken language and written language to flakey wifi. Dialog isn't speech and it really can't be. Spoken conversation doesn't advance a plot and it's dumb, clunky and meandering. Don't try to square the circle. The goal is communication first and foremost and you need to accept the tools you're working with.

Didn't mean to get preachy.

kleinbl00  ·  248 days ago  ·  link  ·  


Nobody communicates solely via spoken language anymore. Our day-to-day vernacular is a combination of texting, speaking and ideogrammatical shorthand (¯\_(ツ)_/¯ for example). Since the advent of SMS we've been blending communication a lot more and our modes are no longer distinct.

You can communicate "¯\_(ツ)_/¯" with a facial expression. You can communicate it with a meme. You don't need to know how to spell it because it doesn't need to be said - but there needs to be universal understanding of its meaning. There is universal understanding of "the usual" but there is not (yet) universal understanding of "the yoozh." With spelling like that, there isn't likely to be. Which means it remains trapped in one mode of communication - which makes it uniquely wounded in language.

Which makes it a dead end.

coffeesp00ns  ·  248 days ago  ·  link  ·  

the question your comment brings up to me is how many dead ends (that stick around, of course, who knows what has staying power?) does it take for written language and spoken language to diverge, and what do you do when that happens? This is something English has had a continual problem with for a LOT of reasons, and for a very, very long time. Indeed, it goes back to a point where English is definably "English", and not "that weird Old High German/Cornish hybrid the locals use."

See, English was not a "written" language, per se, for a long time. Like, it had an alphabet, and you could use it to write English words, but all the people who spoke english on the daily were either illiterate, or wrote in Latin or French (the two court languages, because England had french kings). What little that is written down in english is mostly transcripts. As a result, our written language and our spoken language were very close (and words were often spelled how they sounded).

but as we wrote in english more often, and people like Mulcaster and Cawdrey are starting to write "dictionaries" that are setting spellings more in stone, written language starts to seize up, while spoken language remains fluid. Our two ways of communicating start to diverge. Eventually, they can potentially separate. We know this, because it's already happened in Japanese and Chinese, and we also know it's started to happen in English because of how you basically have to "learn a new language" to write an essay. It's because in some ways you are, and it's not just all down to the academic/casual split.

Look at what you do so often on here - how many comments of several thousand words have you written here that are not just well written, but also cited? How about over the course of your history on the internet? But none of these is an "essay". I'd argue the only real reason why is that you're writing more like how you speak, and less like how you're "supposed" to write. That differentiation shows the seams between out written language and our spoken one.


Yooj's real problem is, as has been linked elsewhere in the thread, is that it uses a phoneme that english doesn't have a letter combination to describe. There's a phonetic symbol, "ʒ" that you can use, but then you have to find whatever unicode number that symbol is, memorize it, and type it in.

At the end of the day, my question is, though the lens of "Usʒ", how do we use what letters we have to write down this phoneme? English is as stripped back as germanic languages get. We have no accents, we have no real genders, we have almost as few letters in our alphabet as we can get away with (we could probably lose C if you wanted to fight about it). It's incredibly unlikely that we'll add a special symbol just for a phoneme - So with that in mind, how do we deal with "ʒ"?

That's what I'm trying to get into, i guess.

kleinbl00  ·  248 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I think the bigger (more interesting) question really gets into what "language" is.

The first time I found out about registers was when studying Thai. It took me years to figure out that English has at least as many registers as Thai - and that I, perhaps more deliberately but no more skillfully than most, use them all depending on my audience. "Essay" is a funny way to look at it considering everyone from Shel Silverstein to William F. Buckley wrote "essays" and no two essayists write the same. So is a dialect a new language? When did Portuguese become Portuguese instead of the Portuguese dialect of Spanish? When will Brazilian cease to be Portuguese? When will Cuban cease to be Spanish? I would argue that this point is arbitrarily assigned.

    At the end of the day, my question is, though the lens of "Usʒ", how do we use what letters we have to write down this phoneme?

At the end of the day, my point is, you don't. Fetch ain't gonna happen. English is an incredibly versatile language but the other words we have with a zh are either borrowed or ancient. "yoozh" is a new word with no alphabet and also

    However most Spanish speakers can't hear the difference between /ʒ/ and /ʃ/ and they are not aware that vision /ˈvɪʒən/ and mission /ˈmɪʃən/ don't rhyme.

So there's that.

Look - goobster's articles indicate that people have been trying to make Fetch happen since 2009 or earlier but I'm with this guy:

    Respelling systems deployed to show pronunciation in some monoglot English dictionaries (notably those published in the USA) represent ʒ as zh pretty much without exception. So one can say that writing zh is a well-established convention, despite the claim in Wikipedia that it is ‘ad hoc’.

    The only European language that uses zh for ʒ (or for anything else) in standard orthography appears to be Albanian — not a language often learned by outsiders. I can’t think of any non-European languages that use it, either.

It is plainly, obviously yoozh to me and a yoozh is so obviously a horrible sound made by an orifice in your body you were previously unaware of that I'm revolted simply from typing it. The fact that there's argument about a fucking obvious combo like "zh" indicates that my revulsion is not unique.

Thus, the word will die, no matter how many writers want Fetch to happen.

tacocat  ·  248 days ago  ·  link  ·  

You're not wrong but I fail to see how I'm wrong about written speech and spoken speech being separate things. Particularly for the purpose of creative writing.

kleinbl00  ·  248 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Because they aren't separate.

Written speech is an emulation of spoken speech. This much is true and has always been true. However, the advent of mobile text-based instantaneous communication has caused spoken speech to be influenced by written speech. Tell me you've never once in your life said "lol" out loud. That right there is a keyboard shortcut of a textual maladaptation turned into vernacular and recycled back into speech. Same with the verbal use of "hashtag." It is a verbal representation of a textual shorthand used to express an idea larger than its ideogrammatic payload.

There is no easy, immediate way to communicate the verbal "the Us(ual)". So while it may be used amongst an ingroup as a part of their spoken language, it's a tic - it's "an idiosyncratic and habitual feature" not an idea that can be communicated to others.

Verbal languages are effectively dead now - if you don't have a written language to go along with your verbal language, you have no ability to transcend your immediate environs. "How do I write this slang" is a de facto and de jure attempt to transcend the immediate environs of language and it is a failure. That it can easily be communicated verbally doesn't matter - Kalahari bushmen can absolutely use language features no other language does but they don't catch on with anyone who doesn't hear them spoken.

_refugee_  ·  247 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I can come up with exactly one scenario in which spoons' question (how to spell this word) could possibly be anything more than a thought experiment, and to that I say: man, i bet it sucks to be the guy being paid $.01/word to type up the subtitles for TV.

that guy is the only guy, probably ever in the history of the world, likely to find this question not only relevant - but pressing.

poor guy probably has to type so fast to make decent $ off subtitling he just threw some letters down and didn't even look back or give a fug

kleinbl00  ·  247 days ago  ·  link  ·  

... And he'd type "usual."

I've seen those guys work. They don't backspace. The closed captioning people anyway. When it comes to subtitles that's a college intern at the production company.

tacocat  ·  248 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Right. An emulation. And not a perfect one. Yes, shorthand and slang and SMS abbreviations can and do influence spoken language. No. You can't just invent one.

But you can't translate all the nuances, imperfections, intonations, personally shared meaning into text for the purpose of narrative. You can come close in film and drama but your dialog still has to serve the purpose of the story you're telling and so it is not a 1:1 comparison of dialog to conversation.

The closest writer I can think of off the top of my head to do it is Raymond Carver and his characters still have to speak in a stylized fashion to a degree to serve the story. Speech and writing are not the same thing. You can't have two characters constantly stumbling over each other's statements as happens in real life or you get stilted tedious dialog. Conversation evolves in natural ways that serve no purpose beyond communication between people. You're really hard pressed to give a character a speech impediment except maybe a lisp.

Writing can't be speech. Maybe a transcript can be. I'm talking about writing with some overall plot or structure because I assumed that is what sp00ns is doing. You can emulate speech in a way that seems natural if you're good enough but it's still stylized which means that there is a barrier between the way we can speak everyday and the way we can write speech for the purposes of a narrative. Words are just tools and they have their limits as such and they have different limits based on how they are presented, whether orally or written.

Also I think I said LOL like once as a joke. I just gave in and started typing it in the last year.

kleinbl00  ·  248 days ago  ·  link  ·  

We're speaking at cross-purposes. I'm tired. I missed you arguing primarily that "speech" (for purposes of creative writing) and speech (for communication) are different. Sorry. I agree with that 100%.

My primary argument pretty much comes down to this:

    When in doubt I usually just go with what is easiest to understand

And when it's so impossible to understand that you have to take a survey to determine how to move forward, nobody is going to go with it. Where you said "accept the tools you're working with" I thought you were arguing that if people talk that way, you have to figure out a way to write it.

Carry on.

tacocat  ·  248 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I didn't think we were far off from each other. Carry on yourself.