The devolution of English language and slothful c.l.p behaviors exposed!

Steven D'Aprano steve+comp.lang.python at
Wed Jan 25 19:53:20 EST 2012

On Wed, 25 Jan 2012 12:14:43 -0800, Rick Johnson wrote:

> PS: Just like i suspected; not one single use of "pretty" was wielded to
> describe the pleasurable attributes of a person, place, or thing. Mind
> boggling!

Have you even bothered to look up "pretty" in the dictionary? has this usage note:

    The qualifying adverb pretty,  meaning "fairly or moderately" 
    has been in general use since the late 16th century. Although 
    most common in informal speech and writing, it is far from 
    restricted to them, and often is less stilted than alternatives 
    such as relatively, moderately, and quite. 

so your complaints are about 400 years late. Perhaps you don't know as 
much about the English language as you think.

The Oxford Dictionary lists the first definition of "pretty" as 

    Orig. cunning, crafty. Later (of a person) clever, skillful; 
   (of a thing) cleverly made or done, ingenious, artful.

and states that it is derived from Old English praettig, "capricious, 

Other meanings include:

    "excellent or admirable in appearance"

    "brave, gallant, warlike" (this one is chiefly Scots)

    "Of a person, esp. a woman or child: attractive and pleasing 
     in appearance; beautiful in a delicate, dainty or diminutive 
     way without stateliness"

    "Of a quantity or amount: considerable, great"

    "To a considerable extent, considerably; fairly, moderately,

I think it is absolutely wonderful that the English language has evolved 
in such a way that "pretty" means both warlike and dainty :)


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