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"mains"

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  • James Kirchner
    How often do the British use the word mains in the electrical sense, in expressions like mains adaptor , mains supply , mains cable , etc., instead of
    Message 1 of 17 , Jul 8, 2009
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      How often do the British use the word "mains" in the electrical sense,
      in expressions like "mains adaptor", "mains supply", "mains cable",
      etc., instead of "power" or "electrical"?

      Despite having had to read at technical material from various
      countries for decades, last week was the first time in my entire life
      that I had ever encountered the word "mains" used that way, and I
      can't even figure out the semantic or grammatical logic of the
      compounds. Google shows those compounds with "mains" being dwarfed in
      most instances by the equivalents using "power" or some form of
      "electrical", so I'm treating them as what I call "local slang",
      regardless of whether someone somewhere might consider them standard
      English.

      If anyone can explain the semantic and grammatical logic of forming
      compounds with "mains" this way, I'd appreciate it. I know of sewer
      mains and water mains, but never electrical mains. I want to
      understand it even if I delete it from everything.

      Thank you.

      Jamie
    • Josef Hlavac
      Hi all, ... Surprising, very surprising. I see this term and the related constructs very often in various consumer electronics manuals from all over the world,
      Message 2 of 17 , Jul 8, 2009
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        Hi all,
        > Despite having had to read at technical material from various
        > countries for decades, last week was the first time in my entire life
        > that I had ever encountered the word "mains" used that way, and I
        > can't even figure out the semantic or grammatical logic of the
        > compounds.
        Surprising, very surprising. I see this term and the related constructs
        very often in various consumer electronics manuals from all over the
        world, including North America.

        > If anyone can explain the semantic and grammatical logic of forming
        > compounds with "mains" this way, I'd appreciate it. I know of sewer
        > mains and water mains, but never electrical mains.
        You've answered your own question.

        Josef
      • Mihail Mihaylov
        Be ready for the reality. Don t know about British but this is the common usage in Chinglish, Jenglish, Denglish, Danglish, Dunglish, Frenglish, Czenglish and
        Message 3 of 17 , Jul 8, 2009
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          Be ready for the reality. Don't know about British but this is the common usage in Chinglish, Jenglish, Denglish, Danglish, Dunglish, Frenglish, Czenglish and many other hitech languages.

          Caution: Electric shock can occur (option).

          Keep warned,

          Mihail


          ----- Original Message -----
          From: James Kirchner
          To: Czechlist@yahoogroups.com
          Sent: Wednesday, July 08, 2009 9:05 PM
          Subject: [Czechlist] "mains"





          How often do the British use the word "mains" in the electrical sense,
          in expressions like "mains adaptor", "mains supply", "mains cable",
          etc., instead of "power" or "electrical"?

          Despite having had to read at technical material from various
          countries for decades, last week was the first time in my entire life
          that I had ever encountered the word "mains" used that way, and I
          can't even figure out the semantic or grammatical logic of the
          compounds. Google shows those compounds with "mains" being dwarfed in
          most instances by the equivalents using "power" or some form of
          "electrical", so I'm treating them as what I call "local slang",
          regardless of whether someone somewhere might consider them standard
          English.

          If anyone can explain the semantic and grammatical logic of forming
          compounds with "mains" this way, I'd appreciate it. I know of sewer
          mains and water mains, but never electrical mains. I want to
          understand it even if I delete it from everything.

          Thank you.

          Jamie





          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • James Kirchner
          I m assuming these must have been translated from other languages, because I am fairly certain that fewer than 10 percent of North American consumers would
          Message 4 of 17 , Jul 8, 2009
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            I'm assuming these must have been translated from other languages,
            because I am fairly certain that fewer than 10 percent of North
            American consumers would understand "mains" used in that way.

            Compounds like "mains adaptor" violate a general morphological rule of
            English, which is that in the majority of cases a compound cannot be
            formed with a plural suffix on anything but the last element. This is
            why it appears so bizarre to me. When dealing with water and gas
            mains, we use "main", as in "main break", "main connector". There's
            no confusion, because the stress is on "main" and not on both
            elements. "Mains adaptor" sounds like "shoes store" or "cars dealer",
            very non-English.

            Jamie

            On Jul 8, 2009, at 2:14 PM, Josef Hlavac wrote:

            > Surprising, very surprising. I see this term and the related
            > constructs
            > very often in various consumer electronics manuals from all over the
            > world, including North America.



            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • Michael Grant
            I dunno, I seem to run across plural modifiers in UK English fairly often and I suspect it s an AE/BE thing. Perhaps our British colleagues will comment in the
            Message 5 of 17 , Jul 8, 2009
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              I dunno, I seem to run across plural modifiers in UK English fairly
              often and I suspect it's an AE/BE thing. Perhaps our British
              colleagues will comment in the morning.

              Michael


              On Wed, Jul 8, 2009 at 10:12 PM, James Kirchner<jpklists@...> wrote:
              >
              >
              > I'm assuming these must have been translated from other languages,
              > because I am fairly certain that fewer than 10 percent of North
              > American consumers would understand "mains" used in that way.
              >
              > Compounds like "mains adaptor" violate a general morphological rule of
              > English, which is that in the majority of cases a compound cannot be
              > formed with a plural suffix on anything but the last element. This is
              > why it appears so bizarre to me. When dealing with water and gas
              > mains, we use "main", as in "main break", "main connector". There's
              > no confusion, because the stress is on "main" and not on both
              > elements. "Mains adaptor" sounds like "shoes store" or "cars dealer",
              > very non-English.
              >
              > Jamie
              >
              > On Jul 8, 2009, at 2:14 PM, Josef Hlavac wrote:
              >
              >> Surprising, very surprising. I see this term and the related
              >> constructs
              >> very often in various consumer electronics manuals from all over the
              >> world, including North America.
              >
              > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              >
              >



              --
              You have to be happy with what you have to be happy with what you have
              to be happy with.
            • James Kirchner
              I first became aware of the rule through a morphology exercise in a British-written linguistics textbook. :-) Jamie ... [Non-text portions of this message
              Message 6 of 17 , Jul 8, 2009
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                I first became aware of the rule through a morphology exercise in a
                British-written linguistics textbook. :-)

                Jamie

                On Jul 9, 2009, at 12:15 AM, Michael Grant wrote:

                >
                >
                > I dunno, I seem to run across plural modifiers in UK English fairly
                > often and I suspect it's an AE/BE thing. Perhaps our British
                > colleagues will comment in the morning.
                >
                > Michael
                >
                > On Wed, Jul 8, 2009 at 10:12 PM, James
                > Kirchner<jpklists@...> wrote:
                > >
                > >
                > > I'm assuming these must have been translated from other languages,
                > > because I am fairly certain that fewer than 10 percent of North
                > > American consumers would understand "mains" used in that way.
                > >
                > > Compounds like "mains adaptor" violate a general morphological
                > rule of
                > > English, which is that in the majority of cases a compound cannot be
                > > formed with a plural suffix on anything but the last element. This
                > is
                > > why it appears so bizarre to me. When dealing with water and gas
                > > mains, we use "main", as in "main break", "main connector". There's
                > > no confusion, because the stress is on "main" and not on both
                > > elements. "Mains adaptor" sounds like "shoes store" or "cars
                > dealer",
                > > very non-English.
                > >
                > > Jamie
                > >
                > > On Jul 8, 2009, at 2:14 PM, Josef Hlavac wrote:
                > >
                > >> Surprising, very surprising. I see this term and the related
                > >> constructs
                > >> very often in various consumer electronics manuals from all over
                > the
                > >> world, including North America.
                > >
                > > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                > >
                > >
                >
                > --
                > You have to be happy with what you have to be happy with what you have
                > to be happy with.
                >
                >



                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • culka@ttc.cz
                Good morning, I am far from being a NS but I am an electrician. And I have met mains very very often never percepting this being a plural. In my experience
                Message 7 of 17 , Jul 8, 2009
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                  Good morning,
                  I am far from being a NS but I am an electrician. And I have met "mains"
                  very very often never percepting this being a plural. In my
                  experience "mains" is a synonym to "grid" or "network", and has nothing to
                  do with "main".
                  Honza



                  James Kirchner <jpklists@...> napsal(a):

                  > I first became aware of the rule through a morphology exercise in a
                  > British-written linguistics textbook. :-)
                  >
                  > Jamie
                  >
                  > On Jul 9, 2009, at 12:15 AM, Michael Grant wrote:
                  >
                  > >
                  > >
                  > > I dunno, I seem to run across plural modifiers in UK English fairly
                  > > often and I suspect it's an AE/BE thing. Perhaps our British
                  > > colleagues will comment in the morning.
                  > >
                  > > Michael
                  > >
                  > > On Wed, Jul 8, 2009 at 10:12 PM, James
                  > > Kirchner<jpklists@...> wrote:
                  > > >
                  > > >
                  > > > I'm assuming these must have been translated from other languages,
                  > > > because I am fairly certain that fewer than 10 percent of North
                  > > > American consumers would understand "mains" used in that way.
                  > > >
                  > > > Compounds like "mains adaptor" violate a general morphological
                  > > rule of
                  > > > English, which is that in the majority of cases a compound cannot be
                  > > > formed with a plural suffix on anything but the last element. This
                  > > is
                  > > > why it appears so bizarre to me. When dealing with water and gas
                  > > > mains, we use "main", as in "main break", "main connector". There's
                  > > > no confusion, because the stress is on "main" and not on both
                  > > > elements. "Mains adaptor" sounds like "shoes store" or "cars
                  > > dealer",
                  > > > very non-English.
                  > > >
                  > > > Jamie
                  > > >
                  > > > On Jul 8, 2009, at 2:14 PM, Josef Hlavac wrote:
                  > > >
                  > > >> Surprising, very surprising. I see this term and the related
                  > > >> constructs
                  > > >> very often in various consumer electronics manuals from all over
                  > > the
                  > > >> world, including North America.
                  > > >
                  > > > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  > > >
                  > > >
                  > >
                  > > --
                  > > You have to be happy with what you have to be happy with what you have
                  > > to be happy with.
                  > >
                  > >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  >
                  >



                  --
                • Simon Vollam
                  ... All the compounds you mention above are routinely used in BrE, but power and electrical/electricity are perfectly acceptable alternatives. Mains
                  Message 8 of 17 , Jul 9, 2009
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                    > How often do the British use the word "mains" in the electrical sense,
                    > in expressions like "mains adaptor", "mains supply", "mains cable",
                    > etc., instead of "power" or "electrical"?

                    All the compounds you mention above are routinely used in BrE, but "power" and "electrical/electricity" are perfectly acceptable alternatives. "Mains" refers to the distribution network, whereas "main" refers to the principal cable. I guess that's why it stays in the plural as a modifier - for reasons of clarity (rather like the plural use of "Securities" in "Securities and Exchange Commission"?).

                    > Despite having had to read at technical material from various
                    > countries for decades, last week was the first time in my entire life
                    > that I had ever encountered the word "mains" used that way,

                    You amaze me.

                    Simon
                  • melvyn.geo
                    ... This issue cropped up a few months back and I seem to recall Jirka B. pointed out that plural noun modifiers are nothing particularly anomalous (words to
                    Message 9 of 17 , Jul 9, 2009
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                      --- In Czechlist@yahoogroups.com, James Kirchner <jpklists@...> wrote:

                      > If anyone can explain the semantic and grammatical logic of forming
                      > compounds with "mains" this way, I'd appreciate it.

                      This issue cropped up a few months back and I seem to recall Jirka B. pointed out that plural noun modifiers are nothing particularly anomalous (words to that effect).

                      I quote from Practical English Usage by Michael Swan (International Student's Edition) p. 532: Singular and plural noun modifiers.

                      Some nouns have the plural -s even when they modify other nouns. These include nouns which have no singular form (like clothes), nouns which are not used in the singular with the same meaning (like customs) and some nouns which are more often used in the plural than in the singular (like savings). In some cases (e.g. sport(s), drug(s)), usage is divided, and both singular and plural forms are found. In general, the use of plural modifiers is becoming more common in British English; American English often has singular forms where British has plurals. Some examples:
                      a clothes shop
                      a savings account
                      a glasses case
                      the accounts department
                      a customs officer
                      the sales department
                      arms control
                      an antique(s) dealer
                      the outpatients department
                      a greetings card (US greeting card)
                      the arrivals hall (US arrival hall)
                      a drinks cabinet (US drink cabinet)
                      a goods train (BrEng)
                      a sports car
                      sport(s) shoes

                      Do any of these forms sound very odd to you?

                      HTH

                      M.
                    • James Kirchner
                      Apparently I m not so amazing. Over the weekend I ve asked several people who should know, including engineers, skilled tradesmen at factories and people who
                      Message 10 of 17 , Jul 12, 2009
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                        Apparently I'm not so amazing. Over the weekend I've asked several
                        people who should know, including engineers, skilled tradesmen at
                        factories and people who rehab houses, and they have never heard
                        "mains" used in compounds involving electrical wiring. At first they
                        think I mean "main", and when I tell them it's "mains", they are
                        mystified by the expressions.

                        I have also searched the websites of several power companies, and none
                        of them use the word "mains" in reference to the electrical lines, but
                        use it only for pipes transporting water, steam and gas.

                        Clearly these compounds like "mains adaptor", "mains cable", etc., are
                        provincial usage and suitable only for materials that will absolutely
                        be confined to the UK. Anything intended to be in "international
                        English" should use "electrical", "power" or some other less opaque
                        term.

                        Jamie

                        On Jul 9, 2009, at 3:01 AM, Simon Vollam wrote:

                        > > Despite having had to read at technical material from various
                        > > countries for decades, last week was the first time in my entire
                        > life
                        > > that I had ever encountered the word "mains" used that way,
                        >
                        > You amaze me.



                        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                      • Charlie Stanford
                        Not sure about the absolutely confined to the UK Jamie and provincial usage !!! We like to think of ourselves as the epicentre of English..... This is all
                        Message 11 of 17 , Jul 12, 2009
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                          Not sure about the "absolutely confined to the UK" Jamie and "provincial usage"!!! We like to think of ourselves as the epicentre of English..... This is all very depressing - has the sun finally set on the BrEng empire? Or are you just taking the mickey/livening things up? The question you originally asked was "How often do the British use the word "mains" in the electrical sense". If the answer is "all the time", then I think you are hard pushed to draw the conclusion that it is "provincial English". Wikipedia warns that "mains electricity" is not often used in the US and Canada - that's as maybe, but I am not sure that relegates the term to "provincial usage´"! I am pretty sure that South Africans, Australians, New Zealanders, Africans of all persuasions, Indians etc. would understand what is meant by "the mains".



                          ----- Original Message -----
                          From: James Kirchner
                          To: Czechlist@yahoogroups.com
                          Sent: Sunday, July 12, 2009 9:34 PM
                          Subject: Re: [Czechlist] Re: "mains"





                          Apparently I'm not so amazing. Over the weekend I've asked several
                          people who should know, including engineers, skilled tradesmen at
                          factories and people who rehab houses, and they have never heard
                          "mains" used in compounds involving electrical wiring. At first they
                          think I mean "main", and when I tell them it's "mains", they are
                          mystified by the expressions.

                          I have also searched the websites of several power companies, and none
                          of them use the word "mains" in reference to the electrical lines, but
                          use it only for pipes transporting water, steam and gas.

                          Clearly these compounds like "mains adaptor", "mains cable", etc., are
                          provincial usage and suitable only for materials that will absolutely
                          be confined to the UK. Anything intended to be in "international
                          English" should use "electrical", "power" or some other less opaque
                          term.

                          Jamie

                          On Jul 9, 2009, at 3:01 AM, Simon Vollam wrote:

                          > > Despite having had to read at technical material from various
                          > > countries for decades, last week was the first time in my entire
                          > life
                          > > that I had ever encountered the word "mains" used that way,
                          >
                          > You amaze me.

                          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]





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                          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                        • James Kirchner
                          If it s not often used in the US and Canada (and I would confirm that it s virtually NEVER used), and if people involved in the technical professions here
                          Message 12 of 17 , Jul 12, 2009
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                            If it's not often used in the US and Canada (and I would confirm that
                            it's virtually NEVER used), and if people involved in the technical
                            professions here don't even seem to know it, then it is clearly
                            confined to use by a minority of the world's native English speakers.
                            "Provincial" was probably the wrong term, but it's clearly local
                            usage. I wouldn't bring places like India or Singapore into the
                            equation, because in those countries they still use terms like "school
                            servant". Besides finding the usage on NO American power company
                            sites, I searched the sites of two Australian power companies and
                            didn't find the usage there either, but I did find it on the site of a
                            South African one.

                            You're right that we all like to think of ourselves as the epicenter
                            of English, and of course we shouldn't do so. However, there is
                            another fallacious belief that is more common, which is that
                            unmodified British English is "international English". People who
                            hold this belief think that British expressions, no matter how local
                            or opaque are suitable for publications aimed at a world audience,
                            which is not the case.

                            If I run into a British term that I am not familiar with,
                            (1) I don't change it if the publication is meant exclusively for the
                            UK.
                            If the audience is international,
                            (2) I usually don't disturb the term if it is also widely known on my
                            continent.
                            If it isn't widely known on my continent,
                            (3) I still don't disturb the term if its meaning is transparent from
                            the words it is composed of.
                            If the meaning isn't transparent from the words the term is composed of,
                            (4) I change to a more transparent term (even if it's one I personally
                            wouldn't use).

                            (5) Additionally, if I have never run across the term in advanced or
                            specialized British ESL books (of which I have used many), it's doomed
                            in my translations, but only IF it's otherwise quite opaque.

                            "Mains" in its electrical usage fails tests 1 through 3 and 5. Since
                            even technical people here, even engineers I consulted who work all
                            over the world, didn't know what it meant, I assumed you more or less
                            had to have grown up in the UK to know it, so I changed it to
                            something that people less familiar with the UK would understand.

                            Terms like "mains adaptor" are particularly problematic, because they
                            don't indicate what sort of current comes out of the "mains", so that
                            would be very specifically local usage. In the States we generally
                            call such adapters by the voltage they are meant to convert, or by the
                            country whose current they are intended to convert.

                            In contrast to this, I don't change the British names of car parts,
                            because those are commonly understood even in countries that don't use
                            them.

                            An analogy would be this: In my state people get their driver's
                            licenses and plates from the "secretary of state's office". If you
                            use this term, everyone in my state knows you're picking up car
                            documents. However, I would be crazy to use the term in a translation
                            intended for the entire United States, because people in the rest of
                            the country wouldn't know what I was talking about. I have to switch
                            to "department of motor vehicles" even when talking on the telephone
                            to someone in another state. The term feels "foreign" to me, but if
                            I want to be understood by the widest possible audience, I have to use
                            it, because the term "secretary of state" would not evoke the image of
                            car documents to someone who had never heard it. I am deemed to write
                            "standard American English", but I still have to modify my terminology.

                            Jamie

                            On Jul 12, 2009, at 6:45 PM, Charlie Stanford wrote:

                            >
                            >
                            > Not sure about the "absolutely confined to the UK" Jamie and
                            > "provincial usage"!!! We like to think of ourselves as the epicentre
                            > of English..... This is all very depressing - has the sun finally
                            > set on the BrEng empire? Or are you just taking the mickey/livening
                            > things up? The question you originally asked was "How often do the
                            > British use the word "mains" in the electrical sense". If the answer
                            > is "all the time", then I think you are hard pushed to draw the
                            > conclusion that it is "provincial English". Wikipedia warns that
                            > "mains electricity" is not often used in the US and Canada - that's
                            > as maybe, but I am not sure that relegates the term to "provincial
                            > usage´"! I am pretty sure that South Africans, Australians, New
                            > Zealanders, Africans of all persuasions, Indians etc. would
                            > understand what is meant by "the mains".
                            >
                            >
                            > ----- Original Message -----
                            > From: James Kirchner
                            > To: Czechlist@yahoogroups.com
                            > Sent: Sunday, July 12, 2009 9:34 PM
                            > Subject: Re: [Czechlist] Re: "mains"
                            >
                            > Apparently I'm not so amazing. Over the weekend I've asked several
                            > people who should know, including engineers, skilled tradesmen at
                            > factories and people who rehab houses, and they have never heard
                            > "mains" used in compounds involving electrical wiring. At first they
                            > think I mean "main", and when I tell them it's "mains", they are
                            > mystified by the expressions.
                            >
                            > I have also searched the websites of several power companies, and none
                            > of them use the word "mains" in reference to the electrical lines, but
                            > use it only for pipes transporting water, steam and gas.
                            >
                            > Clearly these compounds like "mains adaptor", "mains cable", etc., are
                            > provincial usage and suitable only for materials that will absolutely
                            > be confined to the UK. Anything intended to be in "international
                            > English" should use "electrical", "power" or some other less opaque
                            > term.
                            >
                            > Jamie
                            >
                            > On Jul 9, 2009, at 3:01 AM, Simon Vollam wrote:
                            >
                            > > > Despite having had to read at technical material from various
                            > > > countries for decades, last week was the first time in my entire
                            > > life
                            > > > that I had ever encountered the word "mains" used that way,
                            > >
                            > > You amaze me.
                            >
                            > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                            >
                            > --
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                            > Až doposud mě ušetřil příjmu 7225 spam-emailů.
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                            >
                            > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                            >
                            >
                            >



                            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                          • Valerie Talacko
                            It is used in Australia. However, I agree that if it isn t used in the US and Canada, it shouldn t be used in a translation designed to be used
                            Message 13 of 17 , Jul 12, 2009
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                              It is used in Australia. However, I agree that if it isn't used in the
                              US and Canada, it shouldn't be used in a translation designed to be used
                              internationally.

                              I've never come across the idea that unmodified British English is
                              "international English."

                              >However, there is
                              > another fallacious belief that is more common, which is that
                              > unmodified British English is "international English". People who
                              > hold this belief think that British expressions, no matter how local
                              > or opaque are suitable for publications aimed at a world audience,
                              > which is not the case.

                              On Sun, 2009-07-12 at 19:53 -0400, James Kirchner wrote:
                              >
                              >
                              > If it's not often used in the US and Canada (and I would confirm that
                              > it's virtually NEVER used), and if people involved in the technical
                              > professions here don't even seem to know it, then it is clearly
                              > confined to use by a minority of the world's native English speakers.
                              > "Provincial" was probably the wrong term, but it's clearly local
                              > usage. I wouldn't bring places like India or Singapore into the
                              > equation, because in those countries they still use terms like
                              > "school
                              > servant". Besides finding the usage on NO American power company
                              > sites, I searched the sites of two Australian power companies and
                              > didn't find the usage there either, but I did find it on the site of
                              > a
                              > South African one.
                              >
                              > You're right that we all like to think of ourselves as the epicenter
                              > of English, and of course we shouldn't do so. However, there is
                              > another fallacious belief that is more common, which is that
                              > unmodified British English is "international English". People who
                              > hold this belief think that British expressions, no matter how local
                              > or opaque are suitable for publications aimed at a world audience,
                              > which is not the case.
                              >
                              > If I run into a British term that I am not familiar with,
                              > (1) I don't change it if the publication is meant exclusively for the
                              > UK.
                              > If the audience is international,
                              > (2) I usually don't disturb the term if it is also widely known on my
                              > continent.
                              > If it isn't widely known on my continent,
                              > (3) I still don't disturb the term if its meaning is transparent from
                              > the words it is composed of.
                              > If the meaning isn't transparent from the words the term is composed
                              > of,
                              > (4) I change to a more transparent term (even if it's one I
                              > personally
                              > wouldn't use).
                              >
                              > (5) Additionally, if I have never run across the term in advanced or
                              > specialized British ESL books (of which I have used many), it's
                              > doomed
                              > in my translations, but only IF it's otherwise quite opaque.
                              >
                              > "Mains" in its electrical usage fails tests 1 through 3 and 5. Since
                              > even technical people here, even engineers I consulted who work all
                              > over the world, didn't know what it meant, I assumed you more or less
                              > had to have grown up in the UK to know it, so I changed it to
                              > something that people less familiar with the UK would understand.
                              >
                              > Terms like "mains adaptor" are particularly problematic, because they
                              > don't indicate what sort of current comes out of the "mains", so that
                              > would be very specifically local usage. In the States we generally
                              > call such adapters by the voltage they are meant to convert, or by
                              > the
                              > country whose current they are intended to convert.
                              >
                              > In contrast to this, I don't change the British names of car parts,
                              > because those are commonly understood even in countries that don't
                              > use
                              > them.
                              >
                              > An analogy would be this: In my state people get their driver's
                              > licenses and plates from the "secretary of state's office". If you
                              > use this term, everyone in my state knows you're picking up car
                              > documents. However, I would be crazy to use the term in a translation
                              > intended for the entire United States, because people in the rest of
                              > the country wouldn't know what I was talking about. I have to switch
                              > to "department of motor vehicles" even when talking on the telephone
                              > to someone in another state. The term feels "foreign" to me, but if
                              > I want to be understood by the widest possible audience, I have to
                              > use
                              > it, because the term "secretary of state" would not evoke the image
                              > of
                              > car documents to someone who had never heard it. I am deemed to write
                              > "standard American English", but I still have to modify my
                              > terminology.
                              >
                              > Jamie
                              >
                              > On Jul 12, 2009, at 6:45 PM, Charlie Stanford wrote:
                              >
                              > >
                              > >
                              > > Not sure about the "absolutely confined to the UK" Jamie and
                              > > "provincial usage"!!! We like to think of ourselves as the
                              > epicentre
                              > > of English..... This is all very depressing - has the sun finally
                              > > set on the BrEng empire? Or are you just taking the mickey/livening
                              > > things up? The question you originally asked was "How often do the
                              > > British use the word "mains" in the electrical sense". If the
                              > answer
                              > > is "all the time", then I think you are hard pushed to draw the
                              > > conclusion that it is "provincial English". Wikipedia warns that
                              > > "mains electricity" is not often used in the US and Canada - that's
                              > > as maybe, but I am not sure that relegates the term to "provincial
                              > > usage´"! I am pretty sure that South Africans, Australians, New
                              > > Zealanders, Africans of all persuasions, Indians etc. would
                              > > understand what is meant by "the mains".
                              > >
                              > >
                              > > ----- Original Message -----
                              > > From: James Kirchner
                              > > To: Czechlist@yahoogroups.com
                              > > Sent: Sunday, July 12, 2009 9:34 PM
                              > > Subject: Re: [Czechlist] Re: "mains"
                              > >
                              > > Apparently I'm not so amazing. Over the weekend I've asked several
                              > > people who should know, including engineers, skilled tradesmen at
                              > > factories and people who rehab houses, and they have never heard
                              > > "mains" used in compounds involving electrical wiring. At first they
                              > > think I mean "main", and when I tell them it's "mains", they are
                              > > mystified by the expressions.
                              > >
                              > > I have also searched the websites of several power companies, and
                              > none
                              > > of them use the word "mains" in reference to the electrical lines,
                              > but
                              > > use it only for pipes transporting water, steam and gas.
                              > >
                              > > Clearly these compounds like "mains adaptor", "mains cable", etc.,
                              > are
                              > > provincial usage and suitable only for materials that will
                              > absolutely
                              > > be confined to the UK. Anything intended to be in "international
                              > > English" should use "electrical", "power" or some other less opaque
                              > > term.
                              > >
                              > > Jamie
                              > >
                              > > On Jul 9, 2009, at 3:01 AM, Simon Vollam wrote:
                              > >
                              > > > > Despite having had to read at technical material from various
                              > > > > countries for decades, last week was the first time in my entire
                              > > > life
                              > > > > that I had ever encountered the word "mains" used that way,
                              > > >
                              > > > You amaze me.
                              > >
                              > > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                              > >
                              > > --
                              > > Jsem chráněn bezplatným SPAMfighter pro soukromé uživatele.
                              > > Až doposud mě ušetřil příjmu 7225 spam-emailů.
                              > > Platící uživatelé tuto zprávu ve svých e-mailech nedostavají.
                              > > Stáhněte si zadarmo SPAMfighter zde: www.spamfighter.com/lcs
                              > >
                              > > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                              > >
                              > >
                              > >
                              >
                              > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                              >
                              >
                              >
                              >
                              >
                            • Melvyn
                              Everything you ever wanted to know about plural noun modifiers (also known as adjectival nouns, noun adjuncts and attributive nouns):
                              Message 14 of 17 , Jul 6, 2012
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                                Everything you ever wanted to know about plural noun modifiers (also known as adjectival nouns, noun adjuncts and attributive nouns):


                                http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/mind-your-language/2012/jul/05/mind-your-language-nouns

                                BR

                                M.



                                --- In Czechlist@yahoogroups.com, "melvyn.geo" <zehrovak@...> wrote:
                                > This issue cropped up a few months back and I seem to recall Jirka B. pointed out that plural noun modifiers are nothing particularly anomalous (words to that effect).
                                >
                                > I quote from Practical English Usage by Michael Swan (International Student's Edition) p. 532: Singular and plural noun modifiers.
                                >
                                > Some nouns have the plural -s even when they modify other nouns. These include nouns which have no singular form (like clothes), nouns which are not used in the singular with the same meaning (like customs) and some nouns which are more often used in the plural than in the singular (like savings). In some cases (e.g. sport(s), drug(s)), usage is divided, and both singular and plural forms are found. In general, the use of plural modifiers is becoming more common in British English; American English often has singular forms where British has plurals. Some examples:
                                > a clothes shop
                                > a savings account
                                > a glasses case
                                > the accounts department
                                > a customs officer
                                > the sales department
                                > arms control
                                > an antique(s) dealer
                                > the outpatients department
                                > a greetings card (US greeting card)
                                > the arrivals hall (US arrival hall)
                                > a drinks cabinet (US drink cabinet)
                                > a goods train (BrEng)
                                > a sports car
                                > sport(s) shoes
                                >
                                > Do any of these forms sound very odd to you?
                                >
                                > HTH
                                >
                                > M.
                                >
                              • James Kirchner
                                This is an interesting article, full of insight. The (British) intro linguistics textbook I used to teach from held that forming compounds with the first noun
                                Message 15 of 17 , Jul 6, 2012
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                                  This is an interesting article, full of insight.

                                  The (British) intro linguistics textbook I used to teach from held that forming compounds with the first noun in the plural was generally impossible, although your list proved that theory faulty.

                                  I insist that many modern-day constructions of that type are also derived from the genitive. For example, "ladies room" should be "ladies' room", but Americans are increasingly dropping the apostrophe, due to sloppy education. The clear evidence that it's a genitive construction, at least in the US, is that so many places have lavatories and departments marked "ladies" and "mens". Obviously, nobody thinks the plural of "man" is "mens", so it has to be genitive with the apostrophe left out.

                                  Some of the American examples the author mentions are odd to me. For example, "sports bra" yes, "sports car" yes, but "sport coat". I don't know why the difference. I guess because a sport coat isn't to be worn when playing sports. But why do we drive a "sports car" but a "sport vehicle"? It's mysterious.

                                  In the US, we have a "drug czar" going after "drug dealers". The fact that the British can distinguish between "drugs czar" and "drug czar" indicates to me that they must pronounce "czar" differently than we do.

                                  Jamie

                                  On Jul 6, 2012, at 4:53 AM, Melvyn wrote:

                                  >
                                  >
                                  > Everything you ever wanted to know about plural noun modifiers (also known as adjectival nouns, noun adjuncts and attributive nouns):
                                  >
                                  >
                                  > http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/mind-your-language/2012/jul/05/mind-your-language-nouns
                                  >
                                  > BR
                                  >
                                  > M.
                                  >
                                  >
                                  >
                                  > --- In Czechlist@yahoogroups.com, "melvyn.geo" <zehrovak@...> wrote:
                                  >> This issue cropped up a few months back and I seem to recall Jirka B. pointed out that plural noun modifiers are nothing particularly anomalous (words to that effect).
                                  >>
                                  >> I quote from Practical English Usage by Michael Swan (International Student's Edition) p. 532: Singular and plural noun modifiers.
                                  >>
                                  >> Some nouns have the plural -s even when they modify other nouns. These include nouns which have no singular form (like clothes), nouns which are not used in the singular with the same meaning (like customs) and some nouns which are more often used in the plural than in the singular (like savings). In some cases (e.g. sport(s), drug(s)), usage is divided, and both singular and plural forms are found. In general, the use of plural modifiers is becoming more common in British English; American English often has singular forms where British has plurals. Some examples:
                                  >> a clothes shop
                                  >> a savings account
                                  >> a glasses case
                                  >> the accounts department
                                  >> a customs officer
                                  >> the sales department
                                  >> arms control
                                  >> an antique(s) dealer
                                  >> the outpatients department
                                  >> a greetings card (US greeting card)
                                  >> the arrivals hall (US arrival hall)
                                  >> a drinks cabinet (US drink cabinet)
                                  >> a goods train (BrEng)
                                  >> a sports car
                                  >> sport(s) shoes
                                  >>
                                  >> Do any of these forms sound very odd to you?
                                  >>
                                  >> HTH
                                  >>
                                  >> M.
                                  >>
                                  >
                                  > _______________________________________________
                                  > Czechlist mailing list
                                  > Czechlist@...
                                  > http://www.czechlist.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/czechlist


                                  _______________________________________________
                                  Czechlist mailing list
                                  Czechlist@...
                                  http://www.czechlist.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/czechlist
                                • wustpisk
                                  How else can you pronounce czar ? (a bit like the various ways of pronouncing suss , I suppose ;) ) We do tend to spell it differently, though, in order to
                                  Message 16 of 17 , Jul 6, 2012
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                                    How else can you pronounce 'czar'? (a bit like the various ways of pronouncing 'suss', I suppose ;) )

                                    We do tend to spell it differently, though, in order to reflect the true pronunciation - e.g. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2161894/Drugs-tsar-soft-cannabis-We-criminalise-young-says-professor.html
                                    but singular is also used: http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2009/nov/01/david-nutt-gordon-brown-drugs

                                    In the spirit of the upcoming Olympics, one that initially sprang to mind was 'drugs cheat' - which seems to occur just as often as 'drug cheat'

                                    --- In Czechlist@yahoogroups.com, James Kirchner <czechlist@...> wrote:
                                    >
                                    > This is an interesting article, full of insight.
                                    >
                                    > The (British) intro linguistics textbook I used to teach from held that forming compounds with the first noun in the plural was generally impossible, although your list proved that theory faulty.
                                    >
                                    > I insist that many modern-day constructions of that type are also derived from the genitive. For example, "ladies room" should be "ladies' room", but Americans are increasingly dropping the apostrophe, due to sloppy education. The clear evidence that it's a genitive construction, at least in the US, is that so many places have lavatories and departments marked "ladies" and "mens". Obviously, nobody thinks the plural of "man" is "mens", so it has to be genitive with the apostrophe left out.
                                    >
                                    > Some of the American examples the author mentions are odd to me. For example, "sports bra" yes, "sports car" yes, but "sport coat". I don't know why the difference. I guess because a sport coat isn't to be worn when playing sports. But why do we drive a "sports car" but a "sport vehicle"? It's mysterious.
                                    >
                                    > In the US, we have a "drug czar" going after "drug dealers". The fact that the British can distinguish between "drugs czar" and "drug czar" indicates to me that they must pronounce "czar" differently than we do.
                                    >
                                    > Jamie
                                    >
                                    > On Jul 6, 2012, at 4:53 AM, Melvyn wrote:
                                    >
                                    > >
                                    > >
                                    > > Everything you ever wanted to know about plural noun modifiers (also known as adjectival nouns, noun adjuncts and attributive nouns):
                                    > >
                                    > >
                                    > > http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/mind-your-language/2012/jul/05/mind-your-language-nouns
                                    > >
                                    > > BR
                                    > >
                                    > > M.
                                    > >
                                    > >
                                    > >
                                    > > --- In Czechlist@yahoogroups.com, "melvyn.geo" <zehrovak@> wrote:
                                    > >> This issue cropped up a few months back and I seem to recall Jirka B. pointed out that plural noun modifiers are nothing particularly anomalous (words to that effect).
                                    > >>
                                    > >> I quote from Practical English Usage by Michael Swan (International Student's Edition) p. 532: Singular and plural noun modifiers.
                                    > >>
                                    > >> Some nouns have the plural -s even when they modify other nouns. These include nouns which have no singular form (like clothes), nouns which are not used in the singular with the same meaning (like customs) and some nouns which are more often used in the plural than in the singular (like savings). In some cases (e.g. sport(s), drug(s)), usage is divided, and both singular and plural forms are found. In general, the use of plural modifiers is becoming more common in British English; American English often has singular forms where British has plurals. Some examples:
                                    > >> a clothes shop
                                    > >> a savings account
                                    > >> a glasses case
                                    > >> the accounts department
                                    > >> a customs officer
                                    > >> the sales department
                                    > >> arms control
                                    > >> an antique(s) dealer
                                    > >> the outpatients department
                                    > >> a greetings card (US greeting card)
                                    > >> the arrivals hall (US arrival hall)
                                    > >> a drinks cabinet (US drink cabinet)
                                    > >> a goods train (BrEng)
                                    > >> a sports car
                                    > >> sport(s) shoes
                                    > >>
                                    > >> Do any of these forms sound very odd to you?
                                    > >>
                                    > >> HTH
                                    > >>
                                    > >> M.
                                    > >>
                                    > >
                                    > > _______________________________________________
                                    > > Czechlist mailing list
                                    > > Czechlist@...
                                    > > http://www.czechlist.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/czechlist
                                    >
                                    >
                                    > _______________________________________________
                                    > Czechlist mailing list
                                    > Czechlist@...
                                    > http://www.czechlist.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/czechlist
                                    >
                                  • James Kirchner
                                    Some people spell and pronounce it tsar . Most people here pronounce it zar . JK ... _______________________________________________ Czechlist mailing list
                                    Message 17 of 17 , Jul 6, 2012
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                                      Some people spell and pronounce it "tsar". Most people here pronounce it "zar".

                                      JK

                                      On Jul 6, 2012, at 9:14 AM, wustpisk wrote:

                                      > How else can you pronounce 'czar'? (a bit like the various ways of pronouncing 'suss', I suppose ;) )
                                      >
                                      > We do tend to spell it differently, though, in order to reflect the true pronunciation - e.g. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2161894/Drugs-tsar-soft-cannabis-We-criminalise-young-says-professor.html
                                      > but singular is also used: http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2009/nov/01/david-nutt-gordon-brown-drugs
                                      >
                                      > In the spirit of the upcoming Olympics, one that initially sprang to mind was 'drugs cheat' - which seems to occur just as often as 'drug cheat'
                                      >
                                      > --- In Czechlist@yahoogroups.com, James Kirchner <czechlist@...> wrote:
                                      >>
                                      >> This is an interesting article, full of insight.
                                      >>
                                      >> The (British) intro linguistics textbook I used to teach from held that forming compounds with the first noun in the plural was generally impossible, although your list proved that theory faulty.
                                      >>
                                      >> I insist that many modern-day constructions of that type are also derived from the genitive. For example, "ladies room" should be "ladies' room", but Americans are increasingly dropping the apostrophe, due to sloppy education. The clear evidence that it's a genitive construction, at least in the US, is that so many places have lavatories and departments marked "ladies" and "mens". Obviously, nobody thinks the plural of "man" is "mens", so it has to be genitive with the apostrophe left out.
                                      >>
                                      >> Some of the American examples the author mentions are odd to me. For example, "sports bra" yes, "sports car" yes, but "sport coat". I don't know why the difference. I guess because a sport coat isn't to be worn when playing sports. But why do we drive a "sports car" but a "sport vehicle"? It's mysterious.
                                      >>
                                      >> In the US, we have a "drug czar" going after "drug dealers". The fact that the British can distinguish between "drugs czar" and "drug czar" indicates to me that they must pronounce "czar" differently than we do.
                                      >>
                                      >> Jamie
                                      >>
                                      >> On Jul 6, 2012, at 4:53 AM, Melvyn wrote:
                                      >>
                                      >>>
                                      >>>
                                      >>> Everything you ever wanted to know about plural noun modifiers (also known as adjectival nouns, noun adjuncts and attributive nouns):
                                      >>>
                                      >>>
                                      >>> http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/mind-your-language/2012/jul/05/mind-your-language-nouns
                                      >>>
                                      >>> BR
                                      >>>
                                      >>> M.
                                      >>>
                                      >>>
                                      >>>
                                      >>> --- In Czechlist@yahoogroups.com, "melvyn.geo" <zehrovak@> wrote:
                                      >>>> This issue cropped up a few months back and I seem to recall Jirka B. pointed out that plural noun modifiers are nothing particularly anomalous (words to that effect).
                                      >>>>
                                      >>>> I quote from Practical English Usage by Michael Swan (International Student's Edition) p. 532: Singular and plural noun modifiers.
                                      >>>>
                                      >>>> Some nouns have the plural -s even when they modify other nouns. These include nouns which have no singular form (like clothes), nouns which are not used in the singular with the same meaning (like customs) and some nouns which are more often used in the plural than in the singular (like savings). In some cases (e.g. sport(s), drug(s)), usage is divided, and both singular and plural forms are found. In general, the use of plural modifiers is becoming more common in British English; American English often has singular forms where British has plurals. Some examples:
                                      >>>> a clothes shop
                                      >>>> a savings account
                                      >>>> a glasses case
                                      >>>> the accounts department
                                      >>>> a customs officer
                                      >>>> the sales department
                                      >>>> arms control
                                      >>>> an antique(s) dealer
                                      >>>> the outpatients department
                                      >>>> a greetings card (US greeting card)
                                      >>>> the arrivals hall (US arrival hall)
                                      >>>> a drinks cabinet (US drink cabinet)
                                      >>>> a goods train (BrEng)
                                      >>>> a sports car
                                      >>>> sport(s) shoes
                                      >>>>
                                      >>>> Do any of these forms sound very odd to you?
                                      >>>>
                                      >>>> HTH
                                      >>>>
                                      >>>> M.
                                      >>>>
                                      >>>
                                      >>> _______________________________________________
                                      >>> Czechlist mailing list
                                      >>> Czechlist@...
                                      >>> http://www.czechlist.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/czechlist
                                      >>
                                      >>
                                      >> _______________________________________________
                                      >> Czechlist mailing list
                                      >> Czechlist@...
                                      >> http://www.czechlist.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/czechlist
                                      >>
                                      >
                                      > _______________________________________________
                                      > Czechlist mailing list
                                      > Czechlist@...
                                      > http://www.czechlist.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/czechlist


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