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ALLAY

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ALLAY

Postby Dr. Goodword » Sat Mar 23, 2013 10:51 pm

• allay •


Pronunciation: ê-layHear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, transitive

Meaning: To reduce the intensity or severity of something, as to allay suffering or to allay the effects of a fire.

Notes: The major pitfall associated with today's Good Word is the tendency to confuse it with abate. The latter verb is intransitive, which means it allows no direct object (you can't abate anything). If you allay a pain, the pain abates. Near synonyms include alleviate "to lighten", mitigate "to moderate, lessen", palliate "to relieve the symptoms or effects of".

In Play: Whatever we allay must be intense to begin with: "Gretchen said that only a new Rolls-Royce would allay the nervous stress of wrecking her BMW." Fears often need allaying: "Walter, you don't allay my fears by telling me you lost your report card."

Word History: What a rarity: a word that originates in English! Today's Good Word is simply the verb lay with an old intensifier prefix a-, the implication being roughly "to lay aside". Lay comes from PIE legh- "lie, lay" which also devolved into German legen "lay", Russian lezhat' "lie", and many similar verbs found in the Indo-European languages. As this word developed in English, words like litter, law (something laid down), and low were spun off along the way. (Let me allay any fears that I might forget to thank Lee Blue for suggesting today's Good Word by saying, "Thank you," right now.)
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Re: ALLAY

Postby MTC » Sun Mar 24, 2013 9:30 am

I would have to take exception to Dr. G's statement about "abate:" "The latter verb is intransitive, which means it allows no direct object (you can't abate anything)."

In fact "abate" is both transitive and intransiive, e.g., we "abate a nuisance" (transitive,) and "we longed for his nitpicking to abate." (intransitive)

See http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/abate

"Allay" is also both transitive and intransitive.

See http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/allay

"Paradigm shift," or "shifty paradigm?"
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Re: ALLAY

Postby LukeJavan8 » Sun Mar 24, 2013 1:41 pm

Allay is a word I frequently use, and had not thought of it
as something that needed to be defined. Probably
as a teacher and my usual vocab.
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Re: ALLAY

Postby Perry Lassiter » Sun Mar 24, 2013 1:50 pm

Paradigms are indded frequently shifty, and stealthy too!
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Re: ALLAY

Postby Philip Hudson » Sun Mar 24, 2013 4:03 pm

Luke: We frequently get comfortable with our own vocabulary and forget where other people are coming from in theirs. Allay is common to you because of your large word store and experience in using words. If you were teaching mathematics you would have less use for the word. Allay is perhaps less a part of my everyday experience because it does not find much use in technical writing. There are technical features designed to allay one's fears when operating a turning lathe, but one doesn't say that in an operations manual.
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Re: ALLAY

Postby LukeJavan8 » Sun Mar 24, 2013 4:12 pm

I totally understand what you are saying. The
operations manual on anything is often
very frustrating to me. My vocab has nothing to
do with tab A into slot B: that sort of thing
drives me crazy.
My microwave recently went to microwave-heaven,
and the manual for the new one, which is very
different, drove me crazy for a few days.
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Re: ALLAY

Postby Philip Hudson » Sun Mar 24, 2013 4:40 pm

There is a price to pay for people of other languages manufacturing the things we use. We often get the instruction manuals written in inferior English by a foreigner. I once applied for a job as a systems engineer with a very well known electronics company. I was given three functional description manuals for three different products used in various configurations. The interviewer, a foreigner to English, told me that my first assignment would be to describe the interfaces among the units as combined to create a specific system. Given a few hours to review the documents, I opined that the first thing I would have to do was learn the three products and rewrite the product manuals, since they were almost totally opaque to the English reader. My interviewer said she had written those manuals and thought them adequate. I was not offered the job, nor would I have taken it.

Those manuals are still out there challenging the technician in one of the most sophisticated communication systems I know of. Perhaps they constitute the "Cloud" that caused us all, for a time, such woe in posting to this wonderful forum. It took a while to allay our fears.
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Re: ALLAY

Postby LukeJavan8 » Sun Mar 24, 2013 7:33 pm

I agree. There must be a simpler way to write those
things. I would not have taken the job either. If
those in management cannot 'grow' I would not want
to be around them. Even going 'on line' to find
a way around a problem when you don't speak the
lingo is not at all helpful. "Visit our site at www.
Totally unhelpful to me.
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Re: ALLAY

Postby Perry Lassiter » Sun Mar 24, 2013 9:29 pm

Are you telling me the cloud of big data may be at least partly a fog?
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Re: ALLAY

Postby Philip Hudson » Sun Mar 24, 2013 11:47 pm

Well, a fog is a cloud on the ground.
It is dark at night, but the Sun will come up and then we can see.
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Re: ALLAY

Postby LukeJavan8 » Mon Mar 25, 2013 11:38 am

..and closes interstates and airports and schools
while accidents are everywhere: "Police are no longer
responding to accident reports, exchange insurance
info and file police report later".
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Re: ALLAY

Postby fmyers » Mon Mar 25, 2013 1:53 pm

Regarding whether or not "abate" is transitive, here is a sentence from Edmund Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France (1791): "The moment you abate anything from the full rights of men each to govern himself, and suffer any artificial, positive limitation upon those rights, from that moment the whole organization of government becomes a consideration of convenience." Burke, at least in this instance, used it as a transitive verb.
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