Thursday, November 16, 2017

How Long Foreign?

I wrote "status quo" and "laissez-faire" in my previous post and defiantly decided to put neither in italics. They have been residents in the language long enough, and most of our words are no less foreign. I declare them citizens.

I suspect that single words get accepted much more quickly than phrases. Maybe there will be something about it over at Language Log.

I didn't find anything about it over there, but I did get a link to the Latin-O-Meter, which measures how Latinate (versus French, Germanic, other) one's writing is. They recommend writers stay around 30%, and further advise not exceeding 42%, ever.  I entered two samples, and got a 33% and a 42%.  So I am comfortable to stuffy, pretentious.  That is likely so.

They say nice things about Jane Austen's blend.


Grim said...

I pulled a 31% on a non-random sample that I picked because it involved several of us engaged in a political debate. The most famous post I ever wrote scored a 41%.

So... not that different, really. And we're quite different in both background and education.

Sam L. said...

WELL! I never! (I don't do Latin.)

Texan99 said...

The books I proof at Project Gutenberg remind me how much these conventions have changed. 100 or 150 years ago, a moderately scholarly book would freely use French and Latin phrases, almost always in italics, and modified/conjugated/declined properly to fit into the English part of the sentence. Those books also have a habit of including sometimes quite lengthy quotations in a variety of languages without troubling to translate them for the reader. A lot of untransliterated Greek, too. It always cracks me up to read a passage like, "As so ably stated by So-and-So," followed by a long string of something in a non-English language, usually Latin, Greek, or French. Luckily, I don't have to know what it means to proof it or format it.

james said...

Random medium length posts run 28-33. Something from 2004 ran 42. Maybe my writing style changed.

Grim said...

+1 Tex. I read a lot of that stuff, and it's always kind of amazing how free they feel to drop into extended Latin or Greek. But everybody had the same education then, if they were educated at all. Of course your reader can be expected to translate French on the fly, and the Classical languages too.