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Messages - Alan W

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Words / Re: stretching a point?
« on: Yesterday at 04:26:27 PM »
In this case the main question is whether people would usually say rubberier or more rubbery.

The answer is fairly clear. In the 14 million word iWeb corpus, rubberier appears 11 times, but more rubbery appears 233 times. Other corpora produce similar results. When rubberier is used, it doesn't seem wrong. An example from a book called Cincinnati Food: A History of Queen City Cuisine:

Many commercial hams are injected with brine to make them cheaper, which also makes them rubberier in texture.

Nevertheless, the word is rare, and will be classed as such in Chi from now on. Rubberiest is already rare.

Words / Re: New word suggestion - NERDINESS
« on: September 21, 2020, 03:03:30 PM »
Pat raised the question of freebasing which has, on two occasions, been the 10-letter word in a daily puzzle.

The word relates to a method of using cocaine. It appeared in the news in the 1980s and 1990s more often than in recent times, but was probably never what we would class as a common word. Currently freebase and freebased are also treated as common, and the latter has had the potential to be the all-letter word in a 7-by-many puzzle.

I'll make all three of these words rare for the future, and remove freebasing and freebased as puzzle seed words.

Words / Re: Nonplussed about nonplused
« on: September 21, 2020, 02:23:44 PM »
Agreed, belatedly. The nonplused spelling will be classed as rare from now on. For some further discussion opf English spelling issues raised by this word see this topic from May this year.

Words / Re: Is continua really common?
« on: September 20, 2020, 12:54:11 PM »
In previous cases where Latin plurals have been discussed, it's often been found that the plural made by adding s to the end of the word is actually used more often than the Latin form. That doesn't seem to be the case with continuum: continua appears more frequently than continuums. Nevertheless, neither of these plurals is used very often at all. It's not so easy to think of a situation where you would want to make a plural of the word.

I agree with the solution suggested by commenters, of leaving continuum as a common word but treating continua as rare.

Incidentally, the discussion as to whether continuum could ever appear in a puzzle has taken on a different complexion now we have 7-by-many puzzles. In October last year there was a puzzle with continuum as the all-letter word.

Words / Re: Aptly named Challenge game (Lubricate)
« on: September 20, 2020, 12:29:01 PM »
This thread, originally questioning the common status of auricle, attracted a lot of posts, but very few opinions about auricle. Even Jacki's original post was not entirely to the point, because she didn't say the word was unknown to her - merely that she didn't play it because she thought it wouldn't be classed as common.

Anyhow, I think the word should be treated as rare in future. It appears quite infrequently in published writings, and where it is used, it is almost always in a specialist publication. There are 89 instances of the word in COCA, the Corpus of Contemporary American English, but 80 of those are in academic journals. It is used much less often than ventricle, a word related to one of the meanings of auricle. So it will be rare in future.

Words / Re: Dralon
« on: September 19, 2020, 09:05:01 PM »
fossick. What a wonderful word - and it's in COD along with fossicker, one who fossicks.

Fossick first appeared in Australia on the goldfields in the 1850s. According to the Australian National Dictionary it meant, "To search or pick about for gold on the surface, usu. in a desultory or unsystematic way and often on an abandoned or unattended claim. Also with about, around." It quickly expanded in usage to mean any searching or rummaging.

And, yes, Chihuahua does allow fossick and fossicker.

Words / Re: Dralon
« on: September 18, 2020, 02:39:01 PM »
Dralon is in a few dictionaries, including Collins, Oxford (online) and Wiktionary. And it has been used by various writers, including some novelists. For example, Sue Townsend in The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole (1984):

This proof of the cruelty of fate ... reduced me to silent sobs into the Dralon cushions.

The only possible obstacle to accepting it is whether it is normally written with a capital D. The online Collins and Oxford dictionaries list it with a capital letter, and no alternative. On the other hand Wiktionary presents it in all lower-case letters. The Shorter Oxford and the full OED both list it with an initial capital letter, but acknowledge dralon as an alternate form.

The fabric manufacturer's website, always writes the product's name with a lower case d, followed by a registered trademark symbol:

Consistently high quality and reliable service and delivery have enabled dralon® to remain a leader among acrylic fiber producers even under ever-increasing competition.

The fact that dralon is a proprietary term is not necessarily a barrier to us allowing it. Our rule is about whether it is normally capitalised. Some authors write it with a lower case d, for example Fionna Barr in The Darkness Within (2012):

We had a 'cosy corner' with a small sofa, upholstered in brown dralon, Millie wouldn't sit on it because it was itchy, and a coffee table with a glass top.

The word seems to be used mainly in Britain (and presumably in its German homeland). Some of the dictionaries label it as a British term, and I didn't see it at all in any US dictionary. Like Jacki, I hadn't heard of it, so it may be unknown here in Australia. The fabric may be sold outside Britain under another name, but that's not material.

The word will be allowed in future, as a rare word.

Words / Re: Tangoed/tangoes
« on: September 16, 2020, 03:31:44 PM »
Your proposal, Morbius, was that tangoed and tangoes should have the same classification, but I don't think anyone would suggest that tangoed is not common, so the issue really is whether tangoes should remain rare or be treated as common.

It seems that people mostly write the inflected verb as tangos, like the plural noun. Dictionaries give different advice on this.

I googled the quoted phrase "tangoes the night away" and got 5 results. Doing the same for "tangos the night away" got 38 results. For example, "Katy Perry Tangos the Night Away in Argentina" in the Hollywood Pipeline in 2018.

We came up against similar issues with radioes, taxies and soloes. In each case it was suggested that the verb was inflected by adding es while the plural of the noun was formed by adding just s. But it appeared that not every dictionary saw things that way, and in practice most writers leave out the e, whether using the word as a noun or a verb.

Thus I added radioes as a rare word. On similar grounds I think tangoes can be left as a rare word.

Words / Re: deskill- ? common?
« on: September 16, 2020, 02:46:54 PM »
Coming back to this issue, it appears that deskill probably shouldn't be treated as a common word. It isn't used all that often, and is written with a hyphen almost as often as without.

Furthermore the word is sometimes put in quotes when used, signifying the writer feels it's not quite a standard word. Even the business magazine Forbes did this in July:

The economy was crushed by SARS-CoV-2. Businesses died. Many people lost wages that will never return and are forced to look for new work. Some will be forced to "deskill".

(In this case the meaning is, I suppose, that people will be forced to take jobs for which they're over-qualified.)

I'll make deskill and deskilled rare. Deskilling was already rare, oddly enough.

Words / Re: Fistula and fistulae common?
« on: September 15, 2020, 09:53:36 PM »
It's an easy decision to make the plural fistulae rare. It's used much less often than fistulas, and mainly in academic publications. But what of the singular word fistula?

As the comments indicate, the word is known to quite a few people for various reasons. However many others evidently are unfamiliar with the term.

One type of fistula, the obstetric fistula, is an injury that can occur during childbirth, usually resulting in a stillborn child and a severe lifelong affliction for the mother. This problem has been largely eliminated in Western countries, but is all too prevalent in some poorer countries. The website yelnats linked to is run by an Australian based charity working to eliminate the problem in Ethiopia.

So it would seem likely that the word would be more frequently used in some countries than others. This is borne out clearly by the News on the Web corpus. This corpus collects massive quantities of text from English-language news media in many different countries. This shows that the most frequent occurrences of fistula and its plurals, per million words of text, are in Tanzania, Nigeria, Kenya, Bangladesh, Ghana and Pakistan, in that order. Usage in the US, UK, Ireland, Canada, Australia and New Zealand is much less frequent.

It seems to me that fistula should also be treated as a rare word from now on.

Words / Re: CIGARILLO 7 by many game
« on: September 14, 2020, 04:07:06 PM »
This expression seems to be mainly written as call girl, and sometimes as call-girl. But, as you say, Les, the Macquarie has it as callgirl. And Wiktionary gives the single-word version as an alternative spelling.

The one-word version is sometimes used in publications, such as the 2004 book Callgirl: Confessions of a Double Life, by Jeannette Angell. Or in this 2011 rant by David Thomas in the Daily Mail:

But to earn respect one must first look like someone who deserves it. This isn't just an issue for teachers. It applies across the board, from doctors in jeans to policemen in baseball caps; from vicars who dress like tramps to newsreaders who dress like callgirls. Britain has become a shabby, demoralized nation. It's time to smarten up.

Callgirl will be allowed from now on, as a rare word.

Words / Re: Araçari/aracari
« on: September 14, 2020, 02:56:14 PM »
This word is found in quite a few of the online dictionaries. It's mentioned from time to time in newspapers, such as in this passage from a 2017 travel article about Panama in the Globe and Mail (Toronto):

"Look now," he says, as two collared aracari – a type of toucan with large, bright bills – land on the bananas by the feeder, followed by three more. "That's a beautiful bird," he says, zooming in on one with his powerful scope for us to admire better.

It will be accepted in future.

When you say it's not at all uncommon, pat, I don't know if you mean the word or the bird, but for Chi purposes the word will be rare.

Words / Re: arrears - uncommon
« on: September 12, 2020, 04:27:25 PM »
It seems arrears was originally not allowed at all, presumably because arrear was allowed. Then in 2008 I added arrears as a rare word, but I can't find any discussion about it in the forum. So I can't explain why it's not common, but it probably bears looking at.

Words / Re: Random puzzle spoiler
« on: September 09, 2020, 03:10:21 PM »
The only types of puzzle where "spoiler" is a meaningful concept are those that other people can play. A random puzzle, created with the selector on a daily puzzle page, as shown below, cannot be shared with anyone else. So there's no spoiler issue with them.

I think the spoiler rules could apply to a puzzle under the "Your Puzzles" tab, but only if the puzzle has been published and is still open.

Words / Re: caboose -common?
« on: September 08, 2020, 12:20:37 PM » calaboose also classified as common?

Yes, calaboose is classed as common. I don't think it's ever appeared in a 9- or 10-letter puzzle, but it could be the seed word for a 7-by-many puzzle. Without doing any research into the matter, I wonder if there might be a stronger case for calaboose to be made rare.

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