Questions for linguists, semanticists, and copy editors

Discussion in 'The Observation Bar' started by Naphtali, May 2, 2011.

  1. Naphtali

    Naphtali Practically Family

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    I've learned some about words and wordsmithing, obtained differing perspectives without vitriol - refreshing. Many thanks to all of you.
     
  2. Puzzicato

    Puzzicato One Too Many

    How do you conspire by yourself? Surely one can plot alone, but you need someone else to join in conspiracy?
     
  3. subject101

    subject101 One of the Regulars

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    It's one of the promotional shots that Bogey did for the Maltese Falcon movie.

    I like this word, cohabitation, specially whenever you talk about marriage :D
     
  4. Miss Neecerie

    Miss Neecerie I'll Lock Up

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    My explanation last night was simplified.

    Perhaps if I go into the whole sordid tale this will make more sense. I shall try anyhow...to explain why one can add the co- to conspirator and have it be correct grammatically.

    In English, prefix construction can happen in two ways.

    The first, so called 'native' prefixes can be easily broken down into their component parts. examples of this would be counter-, pre-, post-. With the native prefixes the words they attach to are words in and of themselves, and can be easily analysed into the component parts. Thus counterclockwise, is counter and clockwise. Pre-election and post-election.

    The 'neo classical' category of prefixes are not always thus. In our example of conspire/conspirator the prefix is a 'neoclassical' one, in that it cannot easily be broken down into an english word and a prefix. There is no word 'spire' in this context that makes sense, on its own. (for what its worth Spire like church spire comes from a totally different root word spir, meaning a sprout, shoot, or stalk of grass)

    Neo-classical English words such as deceive (and our case conspire) are not analyzed as being composed of a prefix de- and a bound base -ceive but are rather analyzed as being composed of a single morpheme. (A morpheme is the smallest unit of meaning in a language)

    So while conspire does carry some connotations of there needing to be more then a solitary soul involved, grammatically adding a co- to the front of it is 100% correct, due to the inability to split the word into seperate morphemes in english.
     
  5. scotrace

    scotrace Head Bartender Staff Member

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    Eye Heart Geeks. :)
     
  6. Puzzicato

    Puzzicato One Too Many

    She's pretty sexy when she talks etymology.
     
  7. Yeps

    Yeps Call Me a Cab

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    co is just a different form of con which comes from cum. Which one we use just depends on how old the word is and what comes after it. Thank you for breaking down the roots though, I meant do do that in my post, but I just implied it instead.
     
  8. Yeps

    Yeps Call Me a Cab

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    Thank you for this explanation. That is essentially what I thought, so while it is grammatically correct, it does not make much logical sense.
     
  9. Miss Neecerie

    Miss Neecerie I'll Lock Up

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    because English is a completely logical language.


    Pardon me while I lol lol lol lol lol til my head pops off!
     
  10. Wiki says that a conspiracy is an agreement between people to commit some type of act. I'd say that to label some one a conspirator indicts they were in lead with another, co-conspirator probably is used to specifically indicate the other person(s) with whom the conspiracy was worked up?
     
  11. McDaniel

    McDaniel New in Town

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    Location:
    KY and NY
    Have you ever seen the first one with Cortez?
    It was released under the title 'Dangerous Female'
    If you like the Bogart one you will be equally satisfied with
    the Cortez one. Avoid at all costs the version with Davis.
    I am a huge fan of Hammett.
     
  12. McDaniel

    McDaniel New in Town

    Messages:
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    Location:
    KY and NY
    Sorry, still not sure how this site works..I'm a newby...The above was
    for Subject101 or anyone else who enjoys The Maltese Falcon or any
    other work by Hammett.
     
  13. Harp

    Harp I'll Lock Up

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    Chicago, IL US
    A conspiracy may birth; exist unto fruition; or inchoate resolve, within the singular. :)
     
  14. subject101

    subject101 One of the Regulars

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    Location:
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    Sure, but I think Bogey is perfect for Sam Spade role and the acting by Peter Lorre is superb, as always :wink:
     
  15. Yeps

    Yeps Call Me a Cab

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    It may have come to this as the language has evolved, but in itself the word definitely requires conspirators. It is a collective action. Otherwise it would just be a plot of some sort.
     
  16. Miss Neecerie

    Miss Neecerie I'll Lock Up

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    Location:
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    ahhh but therein lies the rub.

    In general, we do not depend on the meaning of the root words to determine the current word's meaning.

    Take for example edify. If we want to use the root word's historical meaning, then you can't edify a person, only a building or structure. (

    So while yes, knowing how the words break down is fun and informative, it does not -always- prove of assistance in how that word should be used in a modern sentence.

    If we had to take the actual literal etymology of the words we use into account, there would be no idiomatic expressions, no changes in nuance as time went by, etc.
     
  17. Yeps

    Yeps Call Me a Cab

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    Location:
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    Yeah, I know. This is just the problem of spending too much time during my impressionable years reading Greek and Latin.

    I am all in favor of language changing and growing, it is just sad to me when the subtlety of certain words is lost, and they become synonymous. In my eye, that is the strength of the English language: we have a lot of words that mean almost the same thing, but can express minute differences in meaning, and when that is lost we just have a rather cumbersome language (which is also entirely unmusical, but that is beside the point).
     
  18. Harp

    Harp I'll Lock Up

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    A collective without, but not necessarily within. ad sed abesse
     
  19. Richard Warren

    Richard Warren Practically Family

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    Bay City
    If memory serves, one cannot conspire with oneself, and the existence of a conspiracy requires more than one person.

    I think the word co-conspirator is frequently used to segregate conceptually one (or more) conspirators from his fellows, for purpose of differential treatment.
     
  20. Harp

    Harp I'll Lock Up

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    5,584
    Location:
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    under the Felony Murder Doctrine?
     

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