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This is common situation...

This is common situation...

Posted Dec 28, 2011 22:17 UTC (Wed) by khim (subscriber, #9252)
In reply to: An uncommon clock function name by robbe
Parent article: A common clock framework

I've seen it many times before: you see group of people, they all talk using English and have no problems understanding each other. Suddenly someone says: "no, you can not say <this> or <that>" and then fails to explain why. Invariably that someone is native speaker and he can not explain why you can not say <this> or <that> because there are no simple explanation.

If you'll ask linguist then usually source of the problem can be found: perhaps 200 years ago word was ostracized because it was too similar to some vulgar slang. It may be 300 years ago the original world (if this <this> or <that> are some modifications of other word) had slightly different meaning and so un<this> or im<that> made do sense. Sometimes even linguists have no explanation and can just cite some 100 years old articles which said (without explanation) that "<this> or <that> is not a word, don't use it".

This phenomenon if not restricted to English, this happens with all languages, of course.

As for me, I've filed "unprepare" under "strange aberration where English does not give you right to use seemingly simple and clear word". Really: why "unstick" does mean that something was stuck and "uncork" does mean that something was corked yet "unprepare" does not mean that someone was prepared?

Apparently the answer is "for historical reason": Marriam-Webster does include this word but gives the following explanation - "to cause to be unprepared : make unfit or unready <the purpose … is precisely to unprepare the reader — W.M.Frohock>" thus apparently you don't need to be prepared before you'll be unprepared, this can happen from "normal state", too.


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