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Posted: 07 September 2007 02:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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Given that “née” is well accepted in english use (efven down to appearing on official forms), the one odd thing about “né” is the retention of the gender difference in the spelling.

Usually once a word is co-opted into english the niceties of pronounciation and source grammer get dropped. 

Or are there other examples where a word is fully integrated but still follows the rules of its original language?

(mind you the accent is usually dropped, not least because english keyboards do not make it easy to add them!)

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Posted: 07 September 2007 02:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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Taken broadly, any Latin loanword that still has the Latinate plural could be an example of “follow[ing] the rules of its original language.”

Hippopotami, media, and so on.

When I was young, a man was blond and a woman was blonde, but I don’t think that’s much followed anymore.  Fiance vs fiancee is still widely observed (excuse lack of accents; I’m too sleep-deprived to mess with them).  And alumnus vs alumna held out for a long time, although within the past couple decades observation of the distinction has declined substantially, I think.

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Posted: 07 September 2007 02:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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Having learned Latin using the (reconstructed) classical pronunciation, I’m usually amused when folks pronounce alumnae as though it were alumni, and vice versa. These days, most people use the masculine plural alumni for alumn, alumna, or alumnus.

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Posted: 10 September 2007 06:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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steve_g - 07 September 2007 02:22 PM

Or are there other examples where a word is fully integrated but still follows the rules of its original language?

This is not quite the same thing, but there is the curious belief among self-described purists that “hoi polloi” includes a word that functions as the definite article in an English context.  This is a fairly late affectation.  Writers had been using “the hoi polloi” for centuries before anyone decided this was an error.

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Posted: 10 September 2007 06:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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Complaining about it the way it’s used may be a recent affectation, but oi is the masc. pl. definitive article in Greek.  Perhaps we can discuss it over an espresso cafe au lait coffee at the nearest outlet of The La Trattoria Bistro Restaurant.

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Posted: 10 September 2007 09:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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Myridon - 10 September 2007 06:48 AM

Complaining about it the way it’s used may be a recent affectation, but oi is the masc. pl. definitive article in Greek.  Perhaps we can discuss it over an espresso cafe au lait coffee at the nearest outlet of The La Trattoria Bistro Restaurant.

The people who condemn as redundant “the hoi polloi” clearly have a false rule in their minds:  that a foreign-language definite article in a word borrowed into English fills the same syntactic slot as the English definite article.  I have never seen the rule stated so baldly, possibly because it is obviously wrong when laid out.  But this by itself is not terribly interesting.  Lots of people believe in bogus rules of English. 

What makes this interesting is that back in the day, when educated people routinely had at least a smattering of Greek, this false rule didn’t exist.  It was in the early 20th century that you see it.  (Going from memory, I believe Fowler is to blame.) The whole thing smells of status anxiety.  Using “hoi polloi” in an unnatural and awkward way makes clear that you are omitting the “the” self-consciously, and therefore that you know that “hoi” is the definite article in Greek.  It is a twisted bit of showing off.

This also serves as a good example of a case where prescriptive usage manuals have diminished the language.  If you use “the hoi pollois” you will get some semi-literate “correcting” you.  If you use “hoi pollois” sans “the” you will sound pretentious and semi-literate.  A perfectly serviceable expression is skunked in the cause of learned ignorance.

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Posted: 10 September 2007 01:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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Richard Hershberger - 10 September 2007 06:05 AM

the curious belief among self-described purists that “hoi polloi” includes a word that functions as the definite article in an English context.

To me, your sentence says that there is no definite article of any kind in “hoi polloi” and it is odd that someone could believe that there is.  There is a definite article in there.  However, as you say, it is standard practice to use snips and snippets of foreign words and phrases without regard for the literal translation of case, gender, number, etc. without blinking an eye.

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Posted: 10 September 2007 04:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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I believe “hoi polloi” is ruined already, regardless of the double definite article (or lack thereof). Here is the definition of “hoi polloi” from MW3:

//1 : ordinary people : the general populace : MULTITUDE, MASSES .... / 2 : people of distinction or wealth or elevated social status : ELITE//

If you or I write “hoi polloi” (with or without “the") the reader may not be able to tell which of these often-opposed senses is intended. Anyway, “the masses”, “the general populace”, etc. serve well enough for me.

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Posted: 10 September 2007 04:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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Without any indication of using it in the latter sense is regarded as an error by many (I would venture to say most) educated speakers? Maybe Nero Wolfe had the right idea.

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Posted: 10 September 2007 08:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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I’m not sure what Dr Techie means there*, but here’s the OED explanation of hoi polloi:

The majority; the masses. Also formerly in Univ. slang, candidates for a pass degree.
In English use normally preceded by the definite article even though hoi means ‘the’.

*Not, of course, that I, one of the hoi polloi if ever there was one, would ever venture to say that Dr T has been unclear.  I value my health far too much.

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Posted: 11 September 2007 05:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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There is a definite article in there.

Not in English there isn’t. Hoi is not a definite article in English. In fact, it doesn’t have an existence in English outside the lexical unit hoi polloi. It is a definite article in Greek, but we aren’t speaking Greek, that’s the point.

Hoi polloi was borrowed from Greek as a single lexical unit meaning masses. We didn’t borrow Greek articles or the Greek rules of syntax along with it.

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Posted: 11 September 2007 06:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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I wrote about hoi polloi here, and I’ll take the liberty of quoting myself:

All right, let’s take it a step farther. “Al” in Arabic means ‘the,’ so “the Alhambra” is redundant (’the the red’) and should be eschewed. Not silly enough for you? How about this: “the Paraguay River” etymologically means ‘the river river river’! That’s right, para means ‘river’ and so does guay. The same is true of “the Yenisei River”; Evenki (y)ene means ‘big river’ and ses means ‘river.’ We are led to the conclusion that either 1) everyone must learn all other languages before daring to speak their own, or 2) “the hoi polloi” is perfectly good English, being the standard usage ever since it was first borrowed. “Hoi polloi” is treated in English as an unanalyzable compound, and that is as it should be.

And yes, it was Fowler.

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Posted: 11 September 2007 07:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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Dave Wilton -

It is a definite article in Greek,

Richard’s statement says that is a curious belief.

I seem to get into this situation too often, maybe somebody can see where I’m going wrong:
OP: A.  B.
Me: Comment on A.
OP: B!
Me: Yes, I agree - B.  Something about A.
P3: B! B!
Me: I’m not talking about B. Can we talk about A?
P4: B! B! B! B!

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Posted: 11 September 2007 08:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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I think people who make a fetish of the issue are wrongheaded, regardless of which side they’re on.  There are good arguments to be made in favor in dropping it like the comparison of Alhambra or algebra, but on the other hand few people would dispute that “These are the poor people Victor Hugo called the les misérables” is laughable, as is “The German submariners are trapped in the Das Boot.” IMO “hoi polloi” in somewhere in between.  I say “the”, but I acknowledge the possibility that people who don’t are just more aware of the redundancy, possibly being more familiar with Greek so it strikes them the way “the les misérables” would strike someone who knew at least some French.  I don’t assume that they’re being pretentious and showing off.

ObExplanation: Nero Wolfe famously fed his copy of MW3 into the fire, page by page.

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Posted: 11 September 2007 08:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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Myridon - 11 September 2007 07:50 AM

Dave Wilton -
It is a definite article in Greek,

Richard’s statement says that is a curious belief.

What I characterized as a “curious belief” was “that “hoi polloi” includes a word that functions as the definite article in an English context.” I have no idea how you got from that to a discussion about whether there is a definite article of any kind.

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