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Virtuella

Can somebody explain that "off of" thing to me? I've seen it in a lot of fics, even by writers who are otherwise gramatically up to scratch, and now I've even seen it in a published novel. You know, like , "She picked a leaf off of her jumper." That just seems totally wrong to me. Is it maybe an Americanism?

5/21/2010 . Edited 5/21/2010 #871
Thranduil Oropherion Redux

It's definitely an Americanism. We use it in casual speech, and I have to make a conscious effort not to write 'of' after 'off'.

5/21/2010 #872
Virtuella

Okay. So the editor of that novel should have caught that?

5/21/2010 #873
Thranduil Oropherion Redux

Editors these days fail to catch many things. I read in a Faye Kellerman novel how the heroine's young son sat 'pouring over' a rare book about the Talmud, and I thought -- God, I hope not, it's a valuable book! LOL

But I'm not sure that 'off of' is really incorrect grammar. It's not graceful, but I don't think it's wrong, per se.

5/21/2010 #874
Virtuella

'pouring over' a rare book

I've done that, too, but kindly readers have enlightened me.

5/21/2010 #875
Thranduil Oropherion Redux

LOL -- you'd be surprised how many times I've seen that now. The first time (with the Kellerman book) I did a double-take and went to check one of my usage reference books just to make sure I was right.

5/21/2010 #876
Ragnelle

Two expressions I would like to run by some native speakers (alternatively people that know the language better than me). I was told that they are not English expressions, but I know they are not Norwegian (my native language) and I know no other languages well enough to have picked them up anywhere else.

1: "Far between" - used as a shortened form of "few and far between". The sentences goes: "No weapons, not even a wood-axe, were allowed without permission and woodcutting were far between."

2: "Fall on either side" - used to describe that we don't know what course of action he would choose if he had to choose between two. The full sentence goes: "Cearl was young, and though he had seen more than Éomer had at his age, he could fall on either side; Éomer did not know him well enough to be sure what he would do."

5/23/2010 #877
Morthoron

1: "Far between" - used as a shortened form of "few and far between". The sentences goes: "No weapons, not even a wood-axe, were allowed without permission and woodcutting were far between."

That is very awkward. It's probably better to just say "No weapons, not even wood-axes, were allowed without permission; therefore, even woodcutting was rare."

2: "Fall on either side" - used to describe that we don't know what course of action he would choose if he had to choose between two. The full sentence goes: "Cearl was young, and though he had seen more than Éomer had at his age, he could fall on either side; Éomer did not know him well enough to be sure what he would do."

Again, that make little sense from an English syntax sense. In fact, 'fall on either side' is a very rarely used phrase. Certainly not something used currently in the U.S.

5/23/2010 #878
Thranduil Oropherion Redux

1: "Far between" - used as a shortened form of "few and far between". The sentences goes: "No weapons, not even a wood-axe, were allowed without permission and woodcutting were far between."

This sentence, as written, doesn't quite make sense to an English eye. I think you don't really want to shorten the 'few and far between' idiom. 'Woodcutting' is singular, so you would use was rather than were. Try: No weapons, not even a wood-axe, were allowed without permission and opportunities for woodcutting were few and far between, or No weapons, not even a wood-axe, were allowed without permission and woodcutting was rare."

LOL -- Morth beat me to it.

5/23/2010 . Edited 5/23/2010 #879
Ragnelle

I tend to pick up strange words and phrases, and since I am no native speaker, I often don't know that they are uncommon.

Thanks. So: awkward and unusual phrasing. Needs to be fixed. Apart for that though (since I am curious): Are they or are they not English expressions? I mostly use British English; would it be different there from the US?

Edit: did not see your post, Randy. Thanks.

5/23/2010 . Edited 5/23/2010 #880
Clodia

They aren't UK expressions, or at least not in the compressed versions you've got there. 'Few and far between' , yes; 'far between', no. I don't think I've ever seen 'fall on either side' used, although I could probably work it out from context.

5/23/2010 #881
Thranduil Oropherion Redux

I keep wanting to say, "fall to either side" although I suppose it would depend on the context and what is doing the falling.

5/23/2010 #882
Ragnelle

Now I am really getting curious on where I could have picked up the "fall on either side" one! It just makes no sense at all in Norwegian, and to me it does sound perfectly natural in English. Very strange. Granted; my English is heavily influenced by Tolkien, and collections of myths, folktales, legends and the like. With a fair dose of academical writing on philosophy, history and literature, so I can't really say that I have a normal vocabulary....

5/23/2010 #883
AltearazCreator

'Fall to either side' makes me think of movements of people, and 'falling in on either side'. I think the closest thing I could come up with for that one is 'Go both ways/go either way' or the more suggestive 'Swing both ways'. It isn't Canadian English, I can tell you that. Perhaps it was a mistranslation somewhere from another language? I can understand it as an expression, actually, but I'm not sure where that would have originated.

5/23/2010 #884
Virtuella

Non-native speaker here, too. I've not come across "fall on either side," but if I had read it in that contexts, I would not have batted and eye-lid.

5/23/2010 #885
Aislynn Crowdaughter

I don't think I've ever seen 'fall on either side' used, although I could probably work it out from context.

Non-native speaker here, too. I've not come across "fall on either side," but if I had read it in that contexts, I would not have batted and eye-lid.

me neiter. It is close to some German idioms, though (etwas könnte der einen oder der anderen Seite zufallen, sich in die eine oder andere Richtung entwickeln), so maybe this is why both Virtuella and I don't get irritated but rather feel that it makes sense to us.

ETA: it also does remind me of "could go eitehr way". Is that a correct idiom in English?

5/23/2010 . Edited 5/23/2010 #886
Virtuella

"Irritated" doesn't mean "irritiert." It means "verärgert" or "gereizt." I think language teachers call that a "false friend", i.e. a word you think you recognize, but the meaning is different. It certainly caught me out repeatedly, until someone kindly enlightened me.

5/24/2010 #887
Thranduil Oropherion Redux

Yes, irritated means to be annoyed. What does irritiert mean?

ETA: it also does remind me of "could go eitehr way". Is that a correct idiom in English?

It is a correct idiom, Aislynn. But some people might feel it sounds to modern for use in a Tolkien story. The longer I write, the more I dispense with that faux archaic nonsense -- as much as possible. I'm currently floundering around for a suitably old term for a hostage crisis. LOL

5/24/2010 #888
Ragnelle

Since I am quite unable to let something go if it puzzles me, I tried to google the expression. It showed up quite a lot of hits, but I have not been able to find a definition. It might, i think, be a shortening of the expression "fall on either side of the fence". I'm trying to find you where that comes from, but it does sound like a proverb.

I am not 100% sure since it has been too long since I had any German, but 'irritert' in Norwegian can mean anything from getting angry to mildly annoyed, depending on the context. It also is used to describe things like skin-rashes. Its like this itchy feeling that won't let go.

I usually try to avoid too modern expressions when writing Tolkien-realated things, but I don't deliberately try to find the most archaic expressions either. Since my perception of what is 'normal' English is a little screwed, I know I sometimes come off as using more old-fasioned words and expressions than I had intended though. But 'palfrey' was not that much more strange to me than a lot of other words the first time I encountered it, and having learned it, it is not that different from other words I have had to learn (to use an example). I usually use 'for' instead of 'because' for the simple reason that 'for' is very much closer to the Norwegian equivalent and it both feels more natural to me, and is easier to remember (and say and write: shot, simple word;)

Also, Tolkien explained in one of his letters that sometimes the old archaic mode is necessary because modern expressions do not have the same meaning or the same way of thinking behind it. I found his arguments convincing. Both our choice of words and mode of expression are coloured by our way of thinking, and vis versa; our words and expressions colour our thoughts and world-view. I set of ideals and worldview that is old-fassioned will therefore often demand a more old-fassioned mode of speaking. The way we speak and thing are connected; and most of Tolkien's characters are not modern.

"Hostage crisis" LOL. I guess 'hostage' is fine, but the whole expression is tied to the image of newspaper-headlines and concerned politicians, and our modern society's response to terrorist demands. Not something I can really picture in Middle-earth really.

5/24/2010 #889
Virtuella

"Irritiert" means puzzled, confused or startled. Or in the context Aislynn used it, that expression would have given you a pause, made you frown and probably say, hang on a minute.

Is there anything wrong with saying "palfrey"? I used that a couple of times in my latest LOTR fic to refer to Princess Lothiriel's horse. Doesn't is mean a calm, reliable horse, suitable for a lady?

I don't use deliberately archaic language, but when I write LOTR, I kind of automatically switch to a more old-fashioned register, because I tend to have the tone of the books in my ear. Also, as a non-native speaker who has acquired a lot of her vocabulay from reading classic literature, I am prone to use old-fashioned expressions even when I don't mean to.

5/24/2010 #890
Thranduil Oropherion Redux

"Irritiert" means puzzled, confused or startled. Or in the context Aislynn used it, that expression would have given you a pause, made you frown and probably say, hang on a minute.

Almost a synonym for bemused, which many English speakers get wrong.

Is there anything wrong with saying "palfrey"? I used that a couple of times in my latest LOTR fic to refer to Princess Lothiriel's horse. Doesn't is mean a calm, reliable horse, suitable for a lady?

It does indeed mean that. Did someone object to the term?

5/24/2010 #891
Ragnelle

My (US) brother-in-law was quite chocked to hear me use 'palfrey' in a story. It was not just that I used the word, but I also knew its meaning. Perhaps it sound more strange in speaking since it is not a widely used word.

You have the definition right, but it also means that it is a smaller type of horse that is used just for riding, with smooth gaits. One fellow storyteller insisted that it meant an ambling horse; ie one that had a special gait similar to the 'tølt' of the Islandic horses. This Wikipedia article bears that out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palfrey.

Not only women ride palfreys, thought it is most usually used in connection with a woman's horse now a days.

edit: I mixed up 'pacing' and 'ambling' - edited to correct it.

5/24/2010 . Edited 5/24/2010 #892
Virtuella

Almost a synonym for bemused

Yes, something like that.

I think the German word for palfrey is "Zelter," which always "irritierte" mich as a child, because I thought is was referring to a person who went "Zelten" (= "tenting" i.e. camping).

5/24/2010 #893
Ragnelle

One of the definitions I saw, stated that the latin word 'veredus' that palfrey partly comes from, became in German name for 'horse' - 'pferd'. Perhaps that is why it feels easy to use for you? 'Zelter' is stated as the German word for the type of horse, and that the word means 'ambling'. Is that right? We have no special word for the type in Norwegian; our horse-culture never developed much on that front. We have a lot of words denoting heavy farm-horses though. And nags ;)

5/24/2010 #894
Thranduil Oropherion Redux

Also, Tolkien explained in one of his letters that sometimes the old archaic mode is necessary because modern expressions do not have the same meaning or the same way of thinking behind it.

Oh, absolutely. That's one thing that younger writers have a hard time understanding -- how language and attitudes change. I illustrate it by pointing out that, in 1935, Indiana Jones might just possible spend the night with a woman, but he'd be sure to park his car over on the next block.

One of my biggest challenges when writing an Elves in modern day story was to drop the unconsciously old-fashioned systax I'd gotten used to having the characters use.

"Hostage crisis" LOL. I guess 'hostage' is fine, but the whole expression is tied to the image of newspaper-headlines and concerned politicians, and our modern society's response to terrorist demands. Not something I can really picture in Middle-earth really.

Well, this is one person angrily confronting another inside a closed room, with the person being confronted managing to convey the sense of crisis through his choice of words when he tells a third party to leave them alone. In modern times it would be, "I have a little 'situation' here. Go away and let me handle it." But the word did not have that connotation way back when.

5/24/2010 #895
Thranduil Oropherion Redux

My (US) brother-in-law was quite chocked to hear me use 'palfrey' in a story. It was not just that I used the word, but I also knew its meaning. Perhaps it sound more strange in speaking since it is not a widely used word.

You have the definition right, but it also means that it is a smaller type of horse that is used just for riding, with smooth gaits.

I'm pretty well-acquainted with the term. You see it a lot in medieval romances. Point being, it isn't just an old-fashioned term for a horse. You would not describe Aragorn as riding a palfrey into battle.

5/24/2010 #896
Thranduil Oropherion Redux

it is a smaller type of horse that is used just for riding, with smooth gaits. One fellow storyteller insisted that it meant an ambling horse; ie one that had a special gait similar to the 'tølt' of the Islandic horses.

Erm, some of those SCA fault-finders really need to get a life. I saw one person lambaste a LOTR story in which the women rode palfreys as 'wrong' because in medieval times women rode mules. Middle-earth is not Middle-ages Europe.

5/24/2010 #897
Ragnelle

Well, she was right (and not SCA btw, she would have found the concept strange). Not that it makes that much of a difference, other than that knowing it is good for the one that tells the story since knowing more about the term means you can use it more accurately. I am not sure that women only rode mules in medieval times: as far as I can see 'palfrey' is a term from medieval times and I am quite certain I have come across women riding palfreys in stories from that time. I would at least require some source-material to accept that statement.

I see nothing wrong, pre se, to have Aragorn ride a palfrey as long as it is not his war-horse. I am sure a king would be able to afford more than one horse ;) Eowyn would not ride a palfrey to war either....

5/24/2010 #898
Virtuella
Randy is right that that cricism is silly. I always roll my eyes when I hear people say about the Tolkienverse "I those days they would have/wouldn't have..." Which days are "those days," pray?
5/24/2010 #899
Ragnelle

I always roll my eyes when I hear people say about the Tolkienverse "I those days they would have/wouldn't have..."

I must admit that I am prone to say similar things, though usually I would say that it sounds too modern to me, without really specifying any historical time. Besides, in Tolkien there is the problem that not all people seem to live in the same time so to speak. The hobbits are far more modern than any other rase, with umbrellas and whatnots, and the Eorlingas seems to live around 800-1000 AD or something like that while Gondor are more developed (though the Romans were also more developed, in a way, than the Anglo-Saxons so time does not really enter the picture). There are some modern things I can not imagine in Middle-earth, but defining it to, say, having only things that were found in Europe in 1200 AD (to take an arbitrary number), is silly to the extreme.

Randy: for some reason I have managed to miss a lot of your posts. Sorry about that - I see that it many times looks like I am answering you when I had not even seen the post when I posted. Not sure what happened here.

Well, this is one person angrily confronting another inside a closed room, with the person being confronted managing to convey the sense of crisis through his choice of words when he tells a third party to leave them alone. In modern times it would be, "I have a little 'situation' here. Go away and let me handle it." But the word did not have that connotation way back when.

Tricky. Does the third person know him/her well? If so, the stance, tone of voice etc could convey the same thing and the choice of words would be less important.

5/24/2010 #900
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