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Words that sound academic, but aren’t

 Language Learning Forum : Philological Room Post Reply
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beano
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 Message 1 of 13
20 January 2013 at 12:54pm | IP Logged 
Sometimes you come across words in a foreign language that sound complex or academic yet they are used
regularly by the masses.

In German, the term pedagogisch wertvoll describes a child's toy that is educational. This might sound rather
high falutin to an English speaker as our use of pedagogic is largely confined to academia. It's not the sort of
word that crops up in conversation with the averge man on the street. But in Germany, everyone uses it.
Another one is "sporadisch", meaning now and again. English has sporadic, but this word is used, er,
sporadically.

Any more examples?

Edited by beano on 20 January 2013 at 12:55pm

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Hampie
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 Message 2 of 13
20 January 2013 at 1:12pm | IP Logged 
Does that mean I'd sound dry talking about pedagogic toys :P?
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Serpent
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 Message 3 of 13
20 January 2013 at 1:43pm | IP Logged 
In Russian words like lexical/lexis are used for vocabulary. Even my current prof sometimes writes "study the lexis" meaning we have to learn/revise the new vocab. (#fail)

This sort of thing is very common with medical words, due to a metaphoric use of them or because the condition gets attention in the popular media. At least that's what it seems like, as in Finnish stressiniska ('stressed neck') is a well-known word although I'm sure the problem is common in ANY developed country.

Can't come up with more examples yet.
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daegga
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 Message 4 of 13
20 January 2013 at 1:58pm | IP Logged 
I have the impression that anatomic terms derived from Latin are at least commonly understood in English, like humerus, scapula, clavicles, vertebrae etc. If you would use such words in German, almost nobody would understand you. But you would probably classify them as academic in English anyway.

Edited by daegga on 20 January 2013 at 2:01pm

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Serpent
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 Message 5 of 13
20 January 2013 at 2:10pm | IP Logged 
On the other hand, when these words consist of simple roots they might not sound academic at all.
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embici
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 Message 6 of 13
20 January 2013 at 2:12pm | IP Logged 
I read somewhere, (maybe the Loom of Language by Bodmer?) that the high-brow vocabulary
we use in English came to us via French (spoken by English ruling class) and the low-brow
via Nordic influences.

I'm not a linguist so I can't vouch for that but it seems to be a sensible explanation.
When I think of words like spelling vs. orthography. In the Romance languages ortografia
is the word in common usage whereas in English we usually say spelling. One is of Greek
and Latin origin, the other... I'm guessing Nordic.


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beano
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 Message 7 of 13
20 January 2013 at 2:15pm | IP Logged 
At intermedite level, it can often be easier to read a text full of "educated" words because many share the
same Latin roots in our own language, even though this may be classed as a fancy way of speaking by the
average native.


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Serpent
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 Message 8 of 13
20 January 2013 at 2:25pm | IP Logged 
...Unless your native language doesn't have that many Latin loans :-)
Sometimes the problem is that the concept is not even expressed by a single word. For example 'destination' can be translated in various ways in Russian, mostly sounding official/cumbersome/serious. It's kinda crazy to realize that in most languages it's just a normal word.


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