Wikipedian corrects 15,000+ instances of "comprised of"

Life is not deliberate. It is messy and random.

Esperanto was the first-known deliberately created (as opposed to “naturally” evolving) language.

You’ve mentioned this tendency of yours before, to prefer the deliberate, theoretical and precise. That is your choice, but it doesn’t survive well outside of sterile laboratory conditions.

But I ain’t gonna argue that point much more.

Yeah, it must be them new-fangled devices interdoosin new words!

I thought I was
The Bally table king.
But I just handed
My pin ball crown to him.

Even on my favorite table
He can beat my best.
His disciples lead him in
And he just does the rest.
He’s got crazy flipper fingers
Never seen him fall
That deaf dumb and blind kind
Sure plays a mean pin ball!!!

Is this what you mean by “video pinball” using the word table?

Stern words:

But there are no theoretically consistent languages.

At times, it can be useful to mark gender.

English and the other Indo-European languages have noun classes for different genders, but these break down when groups contain multiple genders. French has no neuter and defaults to the masculine for mixed groups. Latin has a neuter but iirc defaults to the masculine. Gothic has a neuter and defaults to the neuter for mixed groups. Aside from English, these suffer cross-contamination between the shapes of the words and the genders of the words.

Laadan assumes either feminine or neuter by default, and marks masculine with a suffix, but this breaks down when we need to specify feminine specifically.

Latin doesn’t have articles, and doesn’t distinguish indefinite and definite adjectives.

And attempts to standardize English led to utterly bizarre borrowings from Estuary English. For example, the use of “I shall” and “we shall” instead of “I will” and “we will” to imply future events.

I understand perfectly what you mean; pulling apart and gluing together the Latinic and Greek fragments is one of the more charming things about learning English - and as a bonus, I can vaguely guess at meanings when I see Latin.

That said, I feel a certain need to defend the Germanic side. Old English was presumably closer to old Norse and old German in structure and grammar, and I’d hardly call the living relatives of old German incapable of technical or expressive precision. Their take on the “toolbox full of useful fragments” that has given us New Latin and medical Greek and a whole lot of useful English is to glue together almost any two or more native words. The results often lack the elegance of a (neo-)classical word, but make up for it by being easier to construct, spell, and arguably understand.

After all, is “nocturnal” really better than “night-active”?

In other news, I was deeply fascinated by Uncleftish Beholding.


The British get a pass because of their local wording, like “boot” for “trunk”.

As for Stern, they’re just responding to the horror of all the video pinball refugees coming in as home buyers. I’m sad they’re taking that up.

I disagree, and consider this to be my main problem with Latin languages. I think gender is more or less arbitrary even with regards to people, and completely so when describing non-living things or concepts. The friendly neighborhood dragon even yelled it me for referring to people as “it”. I don’t assume gender for people unless they specify one.

Those uses seem intuitive and consistent to me.

The Common Germanic source for “will” already has the double meaning of intent and of implying future events. The Common Germanic source for “shall” has the meaning of obligation, and was extended to slavery and other abuses. So if you say “I shall” or “I shan’t,” I naturally assume you believe you have an obligation to or an obligation not to, but if you say “I will” or “I won’t,” I naturally assume you believe you will or won’t.

… And before I studied the etymology, then if you said “I shall” or “I shan’t,” I would have wondered what you meant.

I understand. It does seem practical to me to be able to split meanings from overloaded words to avoid ambiguity. I am not very successful with it, but much of my effort in communication tends to involve efforts to be as unambiguous as possible. Not to imply that I don’t appreciate fluidity of meaning, but users of English usually (in my experience) seem to assume some specificity from the outset, even when their practice doesn’t appear to reflect this.

People using their language to entrench imbalanced power relationships, prejudices, and other abuses does occur. But I think of this as generally more of a cultural and motivational rather than linguistic problem. Informal glosses over words which serve to frame perception, such as “supposed” tend to be far more problematic for me.

IIRC, Fowler blamed a lot of 18th century writers for trying to import latin’s structure.


… we see what you did there…

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From The History of Pinball Machines:

The “ancestor” of all pinball machines is acknowledged to be the 19th century “Bagatelle-Table”,
a sort of hybrid between a “pin table” and pool table. - See more at:

While “pinball machine” is certainly acceptable, I see no reason why “pinball table” should not be equally acceptable, given that these pinball amusement devices evolved from something that was properly called a table and have been regularly referred to as “pinball tables” ever since.

Sounds like you were vandalizing Wikipedia in the name of your own misapprehensions.

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Please find me a reference to any pinball machine referred to as a “table”, in official company literature like promo flyers, prior to Stern using it this year.

NO ONE at Williams, Bally or Gottlieb ever referred to them as “tables”. In my 20 years of pinball collecting and restoration, the only time “table” appeared was in England, and when virtual pinball games started popping up on iPads.

Perhaps I am an old man shaking my fist at the cloud of changing language but this one I can’t let go. It’s not a table. Whatever you do, don’t put stuff on the glass like it is!

And pedantic Latin instructors trying to correct the English language by removing such native concept as “split infinitives” and “dangling participles.”

From your link

Another step towards the modern pinball form occurred sometime at the end of 19th century, when inventor Montague Redgrave patented a device called a “ball shooter”, which was based on the recently invented steel spring…

Right. And here’s the patent for the Bagatelle Board.

On the other hand, RedMonkey has observed that “comprised” means something rather special in Patent Jargon, so perhaps patents aren’t reliable for proving general usage questions.

It would seem that this sort of thing merits a trip to the library to consult dead trees. Admittedly, most libraries would not have the breadth to prove or disprove your claim, unless it was a pinball company’s archival deposit.

I regret to point out that Google’s ngram-server found but one mention of “pinball table” in its book corpus.

Granted, that does not include periodicals, but was enough to make me back off the argument (without conceding).

But Estuary English is a relatively recent development As accents go, it’s not as downmarket as Cockney, and not as posh as Recieved Pronunciation.

English has been spoken in the lower Tames basin since the Fifth Century, and other dialects have been influenced by the political domination of the lower Thames basin since, what, the Tenth Century?

Perhaps it’s best if you just read this website:

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Not surprised their grammar’s appalling, particularly the closer you get to SE London…

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