Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sun Apr 25 00:46:37 UTC 2010

At 9:34 AM -0700 4/24/10, Guy Letourneau wrote:
>'Attenuator' is also used as a traffic engineering term for an onramp
>which narrows from two lanes to one within a zone of intentional
>vagueness, such as the end of a center dividing line of stripes, so as
>to reduce the speed of traffic entering from the on ramp.
>In this case 'attenuate' seems more like dissipating the speed of the
>entering vehicles.

Yes, which is akin to the other cases of the standard "attenuate";
this wouldn't strike me as odd the way the earlier cites (involving
strengthened rather than weakened force) did.

>By the way, is there a term for selecting (or inventing) a longer
>syllable word in order to sound more educated? Examples:
>- 'Orientate' when 'align' or 'orient' may work

As I understand it, "orientate" is standard British usage, "orient"
standard U.S. usage; if that's right, there's no more redundancy here
than in British "aluminium" or U.S. "elevator" (when the briefer
"lift" would do).

>- 'Electronic' for 'electrical,'

Maybe, but these terms are usually used with distinct meanings.  Are
you observing speakers who use them interchangeably, as in references
to "electronic outlets" or utterances like "We've just had an
electronic outage"?


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