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Old 01-03-2013, 10:43 AM   #76
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Originally Posted by Stitchawl View Post
Ask as biologist if they would ever use the word 'subniveal' in this manner. If describing the snow-free zone in which rodents travel under the snow cover, the term 'subnivean layer' is frequently used. Does the writer intend to mean that the lawn was snow free? Or was the intent to say that the lawn was simply snow-covered? If so, I don't believe subnivial would be correct usage. It feels more like the writer just added it in for color, without really understanding its meaning. He saw the prefix 'sub' and the root 'niveal,' and thought it would work to mean 'under the snow,' rather than its real meaning.

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Why would you ask a biologist? That would be like asking a cosmologist about "inflation" when the word was used in the context of economics.

Just because the adjective subnivean is used to describe a climate or habitat in biology in no way means that it is incorrect to use it in other contexts.

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Last edited by ApK; 01-03-2013 at 11:08 AM. Reason: Thought of a better cosmology analogy.
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Old 01-03-2013, 10:50 AM   #77
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Just because the adjective subnivean is used to describe a climate or habitat in biology in no way means that it is incorrect to use it in other contexts.
It just means 'under the snow'.
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Old 01-03-2013, 10:52 AM   #78
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It just means 'under the snow'.
A fact which, as a classicist, Mr Dexter knows perfectly well.
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Old 01-03-2013, 11:10 AM   #79
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I don't know about introducing me to new words, but this thread has certainly introduced me to a new author. <runs off to find books by Colin Dexter now>
You won't regret it.
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Old 01-03-2013, 11:12 AM   #80
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In the same way most people today don't know the difference between a landau, a barouche, and a fly, .
Umm...an actor from Space:1999, a French word I don't know, and 50's horror flick?
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Old 01-03-2013, 11:19 AM   #81
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Nor would I immediately assume that an author who uses words that aren't a part of my own vocabulary must be trying to "impress" someone.
Indeed. It's one thing to note if someone obviously talking above their audience for no good reason but to try to come across as superior, but it's quite another to condemn an author for putting some colorful and uncommon language into a piece of art.
That would seem to be the road to Orwellian Newspeak.
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Old 01-03-2013, 11:58 AM   #82
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How do you know they are dirty words before you look them up?
If that is, you really only look up the dirty words? Try these....

(putrid, begrimed, scuzzy,mung, scatological, draggle, smirch, miry, mucky, yecchy, degenerate)

See, I can talk dirty
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Old 01-03-2013, 12:01 PM   #83
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Originally Posted by ApK View Post
Indeed. It's one thing to note if someone obviously talking above their audience for no good reason but to try to come across as superior, but it's quite another to condemn an author for putting some colorful and uncommon language into a piece of art.
That would seem to be the road to Orwellian Newspeak.
One reason I feel sorry for people who never read is that they must have such a limited vocabulary as a result. As an avid reader since childhood, it's probably where most of my vocabulary has come from.
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Old 01-03-2013, 12:32 PM   #84
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Why would you ask a biologist? That would be like asking a cosmologist about "inflation" when the word was used in the context of economics.

Just because the adjective subnivean is used to describe a climate or habitat in biology in no way means that it is incorrect to use it in other contexts.

ApK
If you buried your ereader in the ground, would you say it was subterranean? If you dropped it in the pool, would it be a submarine ereader? I think not. In the same way, I wouldn't use subnivean to describe your ereader if you jammed it into the middle of a snowbank. I think those words are used to describe a thing's proper place, and not just its present location.
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Old 01-03-2013, 12:55 PM   #85
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If you buried your ereader in the ground, would you say it was subterranean?
"After a while, he forgot where he had buried his stash of precious gadgets, and the ereader languished in its subterranean resting place."

Yup.

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If you dropped it in the pool, would it be a submarine ereader?
If I dropped it in the sea, then yes, I might call it that in some fashion. And the word would convey a lot more imagery than just "underwater."

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I think not. In the same way, I wouldn't use subnivean to describe your ereader if you jammed it into the middle of a snowbank.
The lawn wasn't in the middle of a snowbank, it was still a lawn--growing plants--beneath a layer of snow. I think that's significant, and, again, evocative.

ApK

Last edited by ApK; 01-03-2013 at 01:11 PM. Reason: Certainly not to remove an errant apostrophe...nope... nothing to see here.
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Old 01-03-2013, 01:05 PM   #86
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"After a while, he forgot where he had buried his stash of precious gadgets, and the ereader languished in it's subterranean resting place."

Yup.
Nope - I hope! Would you read any author who couldn't get so basic a thing as the difference between "its" and it's" right? I wouldn't!
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Old 01-03-2013, 01:10 PM   #87
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Nope - I hope! Would you read any author who couldn't get so basic a thing as the difference between "its" and it's" right? I wouldn't!
Hmm...I just looked at my post, and I have not the slightest idea what your you're talking about.

Actually, it's kind of funny: We JUST had a thread on that apostrophe issue around here not too long ago, and I was just discussing the thread with my wife when she was labeling a container as "Mom's Nuts" and asked me about the apostrophe. "Look, in this case it's easy because it works as both a possessive and a contraction!"
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Old 01-03-2013, 01:35 PM   #88
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"In it's subterranean resting place". Possessive pronoun hence no apostrophe. "It's" is only ever an abbreviation for "it is" or "it has"; if you mean "belonging to it", the word is "its" with no apostrophe. None of the possessive pronouns - my, his, her, its, our, their - have an apostrophe.
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Old 01-03-2013, 01:55 PM   #89
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"In it's subterranean resting place". Possessive pronoun hence no apostrophe. "It's" is only ever an abbreviation for "it is" or "it has"; if you mean "belonging to it", the word is "its" with no apostrophe. None of the possessive pronouns - my, his, her, its, our, their - have an apostrophe.
I know, it was a typo. I fixed it. Geesh.
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Old 01-03-2013, 02:05 PM   #90
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