Saturday, 14 February 2015

mechanic or mechanism?

In the boardgame hobby, I keep seeing people use the term "mechanic" instead of "mechanism". "Mechanic" is a person who repairs a car or a machine. I wonder how the use of "mechanic" in this manner started. I prefer to use "mechanism", because I can't get the picture of a guy poring over a car engine out of my mind.

How about "die" and "dice"? I have always thought "die" is singular and "dice" is plural. However after I did some searching on the internet, I am now less sure. At first it seems that in the US people use "die" and "dice" for singular and plural forms respectively, and in the UK people use "dice" for both singular and plural forms. I am only sure there is no such thing as "dices". Later I found some websites which say that using "die" as the singular form is just old English. In modern English, "dice" is both singular and plural. So it's not about UK or US English. I guess I am old fashioned. I use "die" as singular and "dice" as plural.

In Malaysia, schools teach UK English. "Favour", not "favor"; "emphasise", not "emphasize". So I try to stick to the UK spelling. The only exception is probably Civilization (and other games with this word). It's the name of the game, so I don't want to change that. There are probably more games with words in their titles which are spelled differently in US English and UK English, but I can't think of any at the moment. Any that you can think of? Please add a comment. Or start a Geeklist at BGG.

Source of photo: The Telegraph - Blogs.


tang tang said...

words are tools of communication , as long as a general public understand it , it doesnt matter what form of the word we chose to convey the meaning. From what i see, some words have take on new meaning in different circle or culture. but that doesn't matter as long as everyone understand what it means. Language is our tool, letz not be enslave by the tool we created.

Hiew Chok Sien 邱卓成 said...

That's a valid point, although I can't say I agree 100%. I feel that for a tool to be fully effective, there are still certain rules or conventions that should be in place and followed. Taking a boardgame analogy (as is appropriate for this blog :-) ), you can play a boardgame with your own house rules and have fun, but not everyone will know or understand or like the house rules. There should still be a common standard that we try to adhere to.

I do find that I tend to be more uptight about language rules though. I don't mind so much new words which help to convey new meaning, but I prefer not to modify words unnecessarity. LOL is OK, but I don't understand why LOLZ.

Aik Yong said...

easy, color, colour.

and yes, replace all the Zs with Ss

Lord of Midnight said...

You r right that "die" and "dice" were the initial form of singular vs plural but I suppose since the word "die" is also used to denote someone leaving this world, the modern usage streamlined that to "dice".

Just like how "Google" is now a verb meant to do a search thru the Internet instead of "search". :P

Mechanics (with an "s") actually do mean the working part of something so when used as "the mechanics of this boardgame", it's correct.

Mechanic without an "s" refers to the job of a person who fixes cars (as you mentioned). The confusing thing is the plural of these type of people is called... "mechanics". haha.

So perhaps it's time we go back to I Before E, Except After C. :P

Hiew Chok Sien 邱卓成 said...

Ha ha... I may need to go find a photo with two car mechanics.

Jonathan Wolf said...

I used to feel similarly that "mechanic" was not correct. But, after looking it up, in fact "mechanic" is a legitimate term that is synonymous with mechanism.

Hiew Chok Sien 邱卓成 said...

I did search a handful of dictionary websites for their definitions of "mechanic" (those on the first page of Google search results), but I didn't find any which also defines "mechanic" as "mechanism". However I did find a discussion thread where the commenter says "mechanic" can mean "mechanism" too. I think he is a PC game or console game player, so I am guessing "mechanic" is commonly used to mean "mechanism" in video games discussions too.