Anjuli_Bai Posted February 17, 2014 Share Posted February 17, 2014 There seems to be a need for a word which we would use when addressing a small group of people in a casual setting. The phrase "you guys" or "you lot" is used but it seems an awkward (and rather inelegant) solution. "Folks" can be used but can be also awkward and would also need the word "you" in front of it as in: "What do you folks want to do?" "Y'all or "you all" is another iteration - but it all points (it seems to me) to the need for a word which would take care of this need. I have read that the indigenous people of Australia have very specific words to denote the degree of relationship of every family member to another family member moving out to the very fringes of relationship. In English we often lack not only that degree indicator and but also even whether the relationship is by blood or marriage. For instance in English: "sister-in-law" can be the wife of my brother or my husband's sister or the wife of my husband's brother. "Aunt" can be my mother's sister, my father's sister, the wife of my father's brother, or the wife of my mother's brother. "Cousin" is also rather vague as to generation, blood, marriage, paternal or maternal relationship. We have a word for "hand" and for the front of the hand "palm" - but no word for the back of the hand. The same for our lower extremities. "Thigh" is the area above the knee, but no single word for the back of the thigh or the front of thigh. Below the knee we can designate either "calf" or "shin" but no one word for the entire lower leg. If one says: "My leg hurts" we have only a vague indication of where the hurt is - is it above or below the knee - is it in the back or the front? I have read that the indigenous people who live areas of the western Arctic Circle have hundreds of words to describe snow conditions; obviously that is important to them. What do we have that would match that need for fine definition? The closest I can think of would be our description for roads such as: freeway, tollway, expressway, throughway, thoroughfare, asphalt, tar, black top, white top, dirt road, gravel, highway, divided road, one lane, two lane (etc.) interchange, circle, round-about, limited access, city street, road, lane, avenue, boulevard, driveway, trail, intersection, street level, all weather, elevated road, overpass, underpass, controlled access, limited use, multiple use, non-commercial access, S curve, school zone, HOV roads, and on and on. When asked a question about distance such as "how far is it from San Diego to Los Angeles" we answer in time: "about two hours." We've acknowledged that we need a word that specifically includes males and females rather than using "mankind" as the default indicator. We've tried "s/he" - but it is awkward and how does one say that? Reporting a conversation which took place between two other people is awkward as in: "I told him that...." when the "I" is not you but the person about whom you are speaking. In written Spanish when a question is asked the question mark "?" both begins and ends the sentence. I think this is a good idea as it signals the reader as to how to read the sentence. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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