Lexigame Community

General Category => Words => Topic started by: rogue_mother on November 13, 2017, 03:55:55 AM

Title: Servery
Post by: rogue_mother on November 13, 2017, 03:55:55 AM
I believe that servery, a word that appeared in the 10-letter puzzle for Saturday, 11 November, should be removed from the common word list, on the basis that this word is not used in the United States. I have never seen this word to the best of my recollection. The Oxford Dictionaries website and others specify that it is British. It is apparently the equivalent of what we in the U. S. would call a buffet table or buffet bar.
Title: Re: Servery
Post by: Greynomad on November 13, 2017, 08:51:54 AM
I would put severer up as a word to be downgraded rather than servery.

I would certainly say " more severe" than "severer", and in fact can't remember hearing severer in use at all.

Sorry Rogue Mother, but I would be disappointed to see servery downgraded.
Title: Re: Servery
Post by: Alan W on November 13, 2017, 11:46:03 AM
Sorry Rogue Mother, but I would be disappointed to see servery downgraded.

Disappointed? Why is that, Greynomad? In what way is anyone disadvantaged when a word is re-classified from "common" to "rare"?

And why do you use the word "downgraded". Being called a common word isn't some kind of badge of honour - it's a label meant to reflect a pattern of widespread usage, that's all.

I don't mean to single you out for implied criticism, GN. Quite a few other forumites seem to look at the common/rare distinction in a similar way to you, and I've tried to point out a few times that they're misunderstanding the purpose of this distinction. But it seems even my severest comments are to no avail.

As for the question of servery - and severer - I'll consider them in due course.
Title: Re: Servery
Post by: mkenuk on November 13, 2017, 12:10:20 PM
I believe that servery..... should be removed from the common word list, on the basis that this word is not used in the United States. I have never seen this word to the best of my recollection.

I agree with the principle that any word that is common only in one part of the English-speaking world should not be on the 'common' list;
The COD, my usual first port of call in such matters, shows this particular word as 'British'.

I also think that servery has a kind of 'archaic' feel to it. I remember it from my student days. We queued up at the 'servery' for our meals. In most canteens now, people queue up at the 'counter'.

However it would seem that the word servery is not quite unknown in US.

The Rice University of Texas appears to have deliberately modelled itself on Oxbridge and the Ivy League.

The Wikipedia article on 'The Residential Colleges of Rice University' has this:

'Each college is also connected to a dining hall, known as a servery. Martel, Jones, and Brown colleges are served by the North Servery, while McMurtry and Duncan are served by the West Servery. In the South, Hanszen and Wiess colleges are served by the South Servery, and Will Rice and Lovett Colleges are served by the East Servery. Baker and Sid Richardson each have their own servery, called college kitchens.'

Title: Re: Servery
Post by: Morbius on November 13, 2017, 03:44:08 PM
I can certainly see where Alan's comments are coming from.  Nonetheless, we do tend to place a value of the status of words.  I've used the term 'downgrade' when suggesting words for reclassification from common to rare.  This reflects the fact that I perceive common words to be more valuable in the context of the game.  Common words get you rosettes, rare words do not.

As to feeling a sense of disappointment when a word is reclassified from common to rare, I think this may happen where one perceives that the reclassification amounts to a dumbing down of the chi lexicon. 
Title: Re: Servery
Post by: yelnats on November 13, 2017, 04:24:15 PM
Common words get you rosettes, rare words do not.

Rare words get Alonzo Quixote cups!

I knew and used "servery" in the game but would rarely(i.e. never) use it in conversation. My rule of  thumb for an uncommon word is one I don't know.
Title: Re: Servery
Post by: Greynomad on November 13, 2017, 06:23:19 PM
Happy to replace "downgrade" with "reclassify" Alan, as I was inferring nothing more than change with my comment.

As far as reclassifying servery, I preface my comments by saying that I only seek the 9 or 10 letter word in each quiz, so it is of little consequence with respect to the quiz outcome or enjoyment for me.

I consider servery to be a common word, and feel it is in reasonably frequent usage in Australia, and I would have expected other English speaking areas around the world. In fact I was surprised to hear that it is not well known in the US. Certainly I don't  feel it should be reclassified anymore than some of the common words that appear at times, but to my mind are common from usage in more specialised fields, as with some of the medical and scientific terms that appear. As another comment, I know in this game I would certainly not have tried severer, as that is a word that I wouldn't consider to exist, as I have never heard it used, think it sounds "wrong", and would use the term "more severe" myself.  

I think it would be sad to see some of those more specialised common words being reclassified, and in my opinion not all regional words should be reclassified due to less common usage in some English speaking areas. It is that very less common "commonality" which makes the rosette worth chasing.

Anyway, I do not seek the rosette, so I am happy with whatever classification you decide is in the best interests of the game in general.
Title: Re: Servery
Post by: birdy on November 14, 2017, 11:59:21 AM
I think I might consider severer as a person or thing that severs, rather than more severe.
Title: Re: Servery
Post by: TRex on November 14, 2017, 01:36:20 PM
I think I might consider severer as a person or thing that severs, rather than more severe.

That is the meaning in the OED.
Title: Re: Servery
Post by: Alan W on March 06, 2018, 10:20:35 PM
It's true that the word servery is not completely unknown in the US. And on the odd occasion when the word appears in a US publication, I daresay the reader can work out roughly what it means.

Nevertheless, in the half a billion words of the Corpus of Contemporary American English, the word appears just once, and that is in a short story by a Bernard Cohen, who seems like he might be an Australian. Interestingly, in the even bigger News on the Web corpus, it seems the word is most frequently used in New Zealand and Australia:


So the word seems to be used less often in the US than in many other countries. The most common use of the word in these countries seems to be for a serving hatch or window in a private home, between the kitchen and a dining area - often an outdoor dining area. Thus an item (https://www.realestate.com.au/news/is-it-better-to-buy-a-fixerupper-or-a-mansion-in-sydney/) on an Australian real estate website last month included the sentence, "The servery window connects the kitchen with the alfresco area."

Of the 7 US examples referenced in the above chart, 3 were from a trade website for the food service equipment industry and another 3 were from university sites, leaving only one from a more general news outlet, the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Going by the meaning of "common" for the Chihuahua puzzle, servery is not common, and will not be treated as such in future.
Title: Re: Servery
Post by: Alan W on March 07, 2018, 03:37:19 PM
So, what about severer? Greynomad has questioned whether it should continue to be classed as common, in fact he doubts that it is a word at all.

Under what circumstances might an adjective be common - as severe certainly is - while its comparative form ending in -er is rare?

Obviously the question of whether a word exists at all is a threshold issue. One reason a word might have no comparative form is that its meaning precludes comparison. This can raise some contentious issues (see nuder (https://theforum.lexigame.com/index.php/topic,1330.msg34895.html#msg34895)), but it needn't concern us here, since there obviously can be degrees of severity.

The other reason why there might be no such word as severer would be if more severe were the only acceptable comparative form. Over the years various forumites have attempted to spell out the rules determining which words can take an -er ending. Unfortunately these did not impress me as authoritative, since they generally seemed to be someone's recollections of what they were taught in school when they were 9 or 10 years old.

I think the reality is that there are no hard and fast rules. H W Fowler, in the first edition of his Modern English Usage (1926), begins his discussion of "-ER & -EST, MORE & MOST" in a stern, one might say severe, vein, but he continues in a more accommodating way:

Neglect or violation of established usage with comparatives & superlatives sometimes betrays ignorance, but more often reveals the repellent assumption that the writer is superior to the conventions binding on the common herd. The remarks that follow, however, are not offered as precise rules, but as advice that, though generally sound, may on occasion be set aside.

In the category of "adjectives regularly compared with -er & -est in preference to more and most" Fowler includes "many disyllables with accent on the last (polite, profound, &c...)" Rather than opening up a debate about whether severe has two syllables or three, let's move on to more current sources of advice.

Not all dictionaries specify the comparative and superlative forms of adjectives, but of those that do, all seem to accept severer and severest. This includes the online versions of Merriam-Webster, Oxford, American Heritage, Collins, Dictionary.com and Wiktionary.

One dictionary that doesn't give guidance on comparative and superlative forms is the Shorter Oxford, but its usage examples for severe include several instances of severer and severest:

Shelley  To pursue this monstrous crime By the severest forms of law.
Ld Macaulay Nor..will the severest of our readers blame us.
J. A. Froude A Roman matron of the strictest and severest type.
Hazlitt A day spent in social retirement and elegant relaxation from severer studies.
J. Tyndall In the following experiment the ice was subjected to a still severer test.

The full OED has 10 instances of severer and 17 of severest.

Here are some examples of severer from recent news stories. The Australian version of the Daily Mail in 2014, reporting on the views of a researcher from the University of New South Wales:

Dr Large said that studies have shown that cannabis smokers who develop schizophrenia, do so about three years earlier than people with schizophrenia who don't use the drug. It also leads to a 'severer and more irreversible' form of the illness.

The Financial Express of Bangladesh, talking last January about traffic disruptions caused by political rallies:

The pain that the Dhaka commuters experienced on the streets last Saturday is yet fresh in their memory. But it certainly would not last long as they might soon be subjected to identical or even severer form of agonies.

And a 2011 article in the Telegraph, UK:

More worryingly for Mr Abbas, al Jazeera is promising to disclose additional documents whose impact could be much severer.

I don't think any of these quotes sound "wrong". In some cases, substitution of more severe could create ambiguity: are "more severe studies" studies that are more severe, or more studies that are severe? "Severer studies" is unambiguously the former.

It must be admitted that the vast corpus from which I sourced some of these examples, News on the Web, has only 68 instances of severer, compared to over 11,000 of more severe. Severest is used more frequently, with 795 examples, but this is still a lot less than the 6389 instances of most severe. Phrases like "severest punishment" and "severest penalties" seem to crop up fairly often in the news.

So I've no doubt that severer is a word (as is severest), but is it so uncommonly used that a typical player might be unaware of its existence, or possible existence? I don't think so, on balance. Severer will remain as a common word.