Something New Every Day: Random & Newly Found Facts

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#31
We’ve all heard phrases like “time immemorial” or “time out of mind”, meaning “ancient before memory or record”. Interestingly “time immemorial” has an actual calendar commencement date: 5th July 1189.

Richard 1 acceded to the throne of England on 6th July 1189. In 1275 the first Statute of Winchester declared that the time of memory was limited to the beginning of Richard’s reign...
That was one of my favourite bits of 'secret' knowledge at school. (I used to collect any odd facts that might have the potential to trip up teachers - I think I might have been a bit of a twat.) I once asked a history teacher who referred to something in the Saxon period as having been around since time immemorial whether that meant that the Saxons had invented time travel? The teacher frowned at me hard, and then it clicked. What followed was one of the most memorable lines of my entire education.

Fuck off, son - this is a bloody comprehensive; you aren't supposed to know stuff like that.

(Edit: Said teacher was known as Big Daddy Hammond - he was actually a bit of a legend, and one of the best I ever had. He died recently in quite sad circumstances.)
 
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Yithian

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#32
The concept of time immemorial reminds me of this:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saeculum

Which you may know from the Latin phrase in saecula saeculorum from the Vulgate New Testament. That means something like until the age of ages, i.e. for eternity.

A saeculum is a length of time roughly equal to the potential lifetime of a person or the equivalent of the complete renewal of a human population. The term was first used by the Etruscans. Originally it meant the period of time from the moment that something happened (for example the founding of a city) until the point in time that all people who had lived at the first moment had died.


I like this notion, marking when events have passed out of living memory.
 

Mythopoeika

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#33
And finally--and this shocked me, being a bear of little brain--baby carrots are A LIE.

View attachment 8715

These things--from the supermarket: Just mis-shapen and imperfect carrots cut down to miniature size, not an actual distinct variety of dwarf carrot.

Am I stupid for not knowing this?
I have seen raw carrots that size. So not such a lie.
 

maximus otter

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#36
The medals for the Paralympic Games all rattle when shaken so that the visually impaired know which type they are holding. The bronze has the highest pitch, then the silver and lowest is the gold.
Wouldn’t it just be easier to tell them: “You came third. Try harder next time.”?

maximus otter
 

CarlosTheDJ

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#37
The sausage-shaped ones shown above though aren't small/young/actual 'baby' carrots, they are processed to make them like that. No carrot ever goes through a 'baby' carrot-shaped stage.
Chantenay carrots are tiny, but not 'rounded' like those ones what come in tins.
 

Swifty

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#39
That was one of my favourite bits of 'secret' knowledge at school. (I used to collect any odd facts that might have the potential to trip up teachers - I think I might have been a bit of a twat.) I once asked a history teacher who referred to something in the Saxon period as having been around since time immemorial whether that meant that the Saxons had invented time travel? The teacher frowned at me hard, and then it clicked. What followed was one of the most memorable lines of my entire education.

Fuck off, son - this is a bloody comprehensive; you aren't supposed to know stuff like that.

(Edit: Said teacher was known as Big Daddy Hammond - he was actually a bit of a legend, and one of the best I ever had. He died recently in quite sad circumstances.)
Big Daddy Hammond sounds like a legend ... our P.E. teacher was also part of the local rugby club and had a party trick .. no, not 'the dance of the flaming arsehole' where rugby players would insert a rolled up newspaper up their arse and then set it on fire but instead the 'Who can fit the most loose change coins inside their foreskin' .. this was the early 80's so not at all inappropriate for us students to know about this. He ended up marrying 6th former student Sally Kent.
 
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#41
Mrs Smith hates men with beards. Which begs the question - why did she marry a man with a beard?

No, it does not.

A begged question is one in which the conclusion is assumed in the premise, or, you might say, where the arguer uses a premise to support itself: in very simple terms - where someone attempts to answer a question by taking for granted the very thing that is at issue.

To be fair, ‘begs the question’ kind of sounds like it should mean 'leads to the question', and I’m generally sympathetic to semantic shift - but begged questions are one of the most commonly employed of logical fallacies and therefore really need a name.

While I’m on fallacies:

Straw man: used to describe another of the most common logical fallacies, and therefore no wonder it's one of the best known. But the problem with the straw man is that you can only really accuse someone of a straw man argument based on what they have actually said. If you base the accusation on your own extrapolation of what they have said then, guess what – you’re the one using a straw man argument.

I’ve seen this done several times by persons who should (and, annoyingly, I think probably do) know better. It drives me up the fucking wall. Stop it.
 
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maximus otter

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#44
A minor one, but you'll get disbelieving looks from 99% of people: Prostitution is legal in the UK.

The reason that many people assume that it isn't is that so many of its ancillary activities are illegal: pimping, kerb-crawling, soliciting, owning/running a brothel etc.

If, however, a lady decides to receive money in return for - ahem! - "sewing on buttons for sailors", she commits no offence whatsoever.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prostitution_in_the_United_Kingdom

maximus otter
 

stu neville

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#47
I think these days it falls into split infinitive territory. It's actually, strictly not grammatically incorrect, but for many years was considered correct practice. In recent times the emphasis has shifted to clarity of expression over form.
 

escargot

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#50
I think these days it falls into split infinitive territory. It's actually, strictly not grammatically incorrect, but for many years was considered correct practice. In recent times the emphasis has shifted to clarity of expression over form.
Are we discussing written or spoken English? Because English as she is spoke is a different animal from what we see on the page. If that page is in a broadsheet or textbook. Not necessarily so much when it comes to message boards or emails or shopping lists.

Does it matter? Yes, because written language is about communication. Is how we communicate as important as what? Ever? Always or not?

I'm off to work now.
 

stu neville

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#51
I'm talking about in exams. There's no penalty for starting sentences with conjunctions, nor for splitting infinitives these days, certainly at lower qualification levels.
 
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#52
I think these days it falls into split infinitive territory. It's actually, strictly not grammatically incorrect, but for many years was considered correct practice. In recent times the emphasis has shifted to clarity of expression over form.
From what I can gather the original intent appears to have been to advise against overuse - which is reasonable (but also reasonable in many other circumstances). This recommendation then evolved into a much quoted 'rule'. There seems to be no grammatical or historical basis in the idea that it is, or ever was, grammatically incorrect.

Some years back I visited a board where one guy tried pulling me up on this several times over.

Show me the data - I asked. He never did - because it isn't there.
 

Swifty

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#53
I think it's one of those annoying English teacher things: Q: 'Can I go to the toilet?' A: 'I don't know, can you?'
A case of teachers in a position of power thinking they know more than they actually do.
Sort of like Mr Logic in VIZ .. he's a right pain in the arse ..

mrlogic1.png
mrlogic2.jpg
 

Krepostnoi

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#55
it falls into split infinitive territory. It's actually, strictly not grammatically incorrect, but for many years was considered correct practice.
As I understand it, there was never any good reason not to merrily split infinitives to one's heart's content. The taboo was imposed by classicists who were enamoured by what they saw as the grammatical "purity" of Latin (in which the infinitive is one word, and therefore cannot be wantonly split however much one may want to). Consequently, they sought to cruelly confine rumbunctious English to similar strictures, regardless of the damage done to the language. Fatui.
 

Yithian

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#56
I think it's one of those annoying English teacher things: Q: 'Can I go to the toilet?' A: 'I don't know, can you?'
A case of teachers in a position of power thinking they know more than they actually do.
I'm an annoying English teacher thing!

'Can' instead of 'May' doesn't trouble me from a grammatical perspective--especially not when making a request to somebody you already know pretty well, and for one which it is perfectly reasonable to expect a response in the affirmative, but it does sound rude to my ears when request is to a stranger or in a more formal setting. I realise it is my own weakness, but I cringe inwardly when I hear "Can I get a hot latte?" or whatever. It almost sounds as if you're aggrieved that said drink hasn't been presented on arrival without your having needed to speak. In situations where I do use it and am asking for permission to act, I tend to include an adverbial 'just' ("Can I just use the bathroom for a moment?") and often shift to the past tense ("Could I just...?")

I think linguists label that 'distancing'--and the extreme examples come across as very British. My American friends pissed themselves laughing the first time they heard the expressions "Would you mind terribly if I opened a window?" and "Would you be so kind as to hold this for a moment?" uttered at a hundred miles an hour.

Alas, all such niceties are going the way of the dodo. Increasingly people have one register for all occasions and 'speak as they text'. I had a chap turn up completely out of the blue last week at my work, asking whether I needed to hire another teacher. He wasn't particularly young, but he was younger than me. He walked into my waiting room, wearing a pair of jeans, didn't have any kind of C.V./résumé, and didn't actually introduce himself, shake hands or even state his name before he started blathering. I was busy, so I nodded to my partner. She took my unspoken instruction to get rid of this man as politely as possible.
 
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#57
^ ah the self-entitled western sojourner. Bet some helpful soul told him to "go see Yith; he'll give you a job if you can write yer name in the sand with a stick".
 
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