1. marcusl
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    marcusl Member

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    Word usage

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by marcusl, Aug 19, 2009.

    A friend of mine said you can't say somebody "boarded" or "parked" a horse, because those are words reserved for vehicles. Is that true? Or is it just personal preference?

    I also recall someone saying it's bad to say a character "detected" something, because it makes him/her some mechanical.

    Just wanted to hear your thoughts. Thank you.
     
  2. natemjames
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    natemjames Banned

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    I really can't imagine saying "John parked his horse", or "Lily boarded the horse".

    It just doesn't sound right, at least to me.

    As for "detected", I would say it depends on the context. Something like "John detected a hint of sarcasm" sounds fine to me. However to say "John detected blood on the floor", while not wrong, just doesn't sound quite right to me. I can't think of a better word, though.
     
  3. Forkfoot
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    Forkfoot Contributing Member Contributor

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    You mount a horse, you don't "board" the thing.
     
  4. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    In some cases, you could get away with saying that you parked a horse, but I would avoid that use, anyway. Never use board. It's always "mount"
     
  5. Operaghost
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    Operaghost Contributing Member

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    Thsi is true, you can mount a horse not board it, and you can't park a horse, but you can park a horse drawn vehicle such as a carriage
     
  6. CharlieVer
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    CharlieVer New Member Contributor

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    In figurative language, however, you can park a horse, board a horse, whatever.

    (Although the phrase "boarded the horse" out of context sounds rather awkward and a poor use of figurative language, I could imagine a context where it might work, at least hypothetically. Perhaps something like "Shuffling on as though getting onto a passenger train, they boarded the horse." Not a terrific analogy, but possible, I guess. I'm sure there are better ways to make such an analogy.)

    Figuratively, your horse could soar to the stars like a vast spaceship. Your horse could dance, your horse could sing, your horse could flutter and fly.

    By the way, I believe technically (when not using figurative language) it's "curb your horse" not park your horse.

    I may be mistaken however, not owning a horse...any horse owners among us? If so, do you park, curb, or ______ your horse?

    If you're serious in knowing, you might want to ask a horse owner.

    You can also say things like, "he tied his horse to a pole," etc.

    And, of course, mount.
    (Or, "leapt gracefully into the saddle," etc.)

    Charlie
     
  7. bluebell80
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    bluebell80 Contributing Member

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    I do believe the correct terminology for putting a horse to rest is "stabling." A horse sleeps in a stable. If they are not being put into a stable, then they are tied to the posts where horses are tied up while their riders go into shops or houses.

    You can also say a "horse stall" because the section of a stable where the horse sleeps is a stall. So you might be cleaning out the horses stall inside the stable.

    You don't normally park a horse, you can park a horse drawn buggy. But you can't park just a horse. Horses board a train, like the example above, but they aren't boarders in a boarding house.

    :) I hate those times when trying to think of the right word and it just totally eludes me. I usually end up googling for ten minutes trying to figure out the word I want.
     
  8. jonathan hernandez13
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    jonathan hernandez13 Contributing Member Contributor

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    There is a right word for the right job. Yes, I would write "mounting" a horse before boarding, the term boarding has its roots in naval terminology where the deck has wooden boards. We had ships before trains, zeppelins, or space shuttles, so the term was later adopted.

    Police on horseback are called mounted police, etc.

    At some point we just must concede with modern word usage and adopt them.

    "Detect" is a tekkie kind of word that's not particular to any kind of discipline or anything like that, I say use it if it fits.

    Parking is also a term that developed after an equestrian age and no doubt is particular to horseless whelled vehicles. I've never heard the term parking used outside the context of cars, unless used as a joke (park your butt).

    Why do you park in a driveway and drive in a parkway?:confused:

    Language is weird sometimes...
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    listen to charlie!... he's right...

    in 'creative' writing the unusual can work well, if the writer has the skills to pull it off...
     
  10. Elistara
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    Elistara Member

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    Yes, I owned 2 horses when I was younger, and I have never heard 'curb your horse'.
    Park your horse, yeah, informally, but used. But board your horse? Never. You don't board a horse like you do a boat, or a train. As a (former, and hopefully again someday) horse owner, the entire 'board your horse' phrase makes me cringe and shudder. (I really don't know why!) You mount your horse. When you dismount, you can tie him to something, or throw the reins around a pole.. or a tree.. or if you know him well, you can leave him untied and he shouldn't wander too far in his grazing, assuming nothing scares him.
    Of course, then there is that to worry about. If you tie your horse to something, and he gets scared and panics - then what? Will that something (the thing you tied him to) break? Will the reins/lead break? Did you tie him with a quick release knot so it just falls off if he pulls too hard? Then will the reins / lead rope get caught up in his legs if / when he runs? Will he trip, fall, break his neck because of it?
    Maybe I am thinking too deeply on it, but all are possibilities to think about. Possible consequences you may or may not have considered.


    I am trying to imagine a character detecting something without it sounding clunky. What context?

    Joe detected a small beeping noise, unheard by any of the other crime scene investigators.

    Sorry, saying detected (in my own head right then) seemed to place him as some kind of investigator also, so that seems to be what flowed for me. But it doesn't seem clunky for me that way. For me, at least, it flows.

    How about.. Scanning the field reaching out before her, Sally detected a presence behind her. Before turning, she spoke...
    It sounds a little clunky to me there.

    I think whether it sounds mechanical or not depends on context.
     
  11. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    I don't see any problem with writing, he parked the horse by the post and tied her up.
     
  12. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Apart from the fact that anyone who has ever worked with horses is either groaning or laughing hysterically?

    This illustrates the all too common problem of understanding a word's likteral dictionary definition (denotation) without understanding the contextual subtleties of the word (connotations). In this case, part of the connotation of the verb to park is that it is not used in connection with livery animals.

    You probably won't find it in any dictionary. Nevertheless, it doesn't fit the context. This is why you must read inexhaustively. That is how you learn to distinguish the subtleties of context that will trip you up if you aren't aware of them.

    I'm sure I bore people with my warnings against using a thesaurus to build vocabulary. I also warn against too much reliance on dictionaries. Both are useful tools for writers, but you must be aware of thir limitations. As precise as dictionaries strive to be, they cannot cover all contingiencies of misuse. Even if they do allude to the context a word should be used within, it is easy for the person who reads the definition to overlook those elements.
     
  13. CharlieVer
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    CharlieVer New Member Contributor

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    I've been thinking about this...

    In most cases, the act of "parking the horse" (or tying the horse to a post, or what have you) would be insignificant to the action of the story. I would think that most of the time, it could be omitted.

    Upon hearing that Brutus is back, the sheriff charged into town on his horse. Minutes later, he pushed open the door to the saloon.

    Between those two events, he tied his horse to the post. (Figuratively "parked his horse" if you will...though I admit, out of a figurative context it does sound silly.) Unless something significant happened while actually tying up his horse, who cares? It's a transitional point that can, in most cases, easily be omitted anyway.

    Cognito, as always, has excellent advice, and his advice on reading to understand word usage instead of relying on dictionaries and thesauruses is especially apt. I might even add, "If you're not sure and it sounds awkward, don't use it."

    Can you "park a horse"? In some figurative context, perhaps, but it sure sounds odd outside that context.

    There are different uses of the word "park."

    Some years ago, I quit smoking. I used Nicorette gum. The instructions for use are to chew briefly and then "park the gum" on the side of your mouth. I imagine that's like "park your butt." I never heard of "parking your horse" however.

    Charlie
     
  14. bluebell80
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    bluebell80 Contributing Member

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    That's because "park the gum" could be interchanged with the words; plant, rest, place, lodge, position, station, and store. "Park your butt" would only have place, rest, sit or seat. You wouldn't lodge your butt, you might position it over a horizontal surface, but really who would say that.

    You don't "park a horse." You can leave a horse tied up, you can station a horse at a tying post, you could even store a horse in a stall or stable. But you can't park a horse.

    I agree with Cog on this. Reading is the only way to accustom yourself to the uses of the language.
     
  15. CharlieVer
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    CharlieVer New Member Contributor

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    Did you ever see a sign that says, "Plant Entrance," and wonder where the Animal Entrance is?

    Just past the Plant Entrance, through the Animal Entrance, you'll find the Horse Parking.

    (Truly skilled horse jockeys can parallel park their horses there.)

    Then again, that's why they have Horse Parks...to park your Horse!

    In front of the funeral home, I saw Hearse Parking, but I'm sure they misspelled "Horse."

    Okay, these jokes are starting to nag...
    I keep making them I'm going to go hoarse...

    Willlberrr!
     
  16. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    'tied her up' brings images of bondage!
     
  17. Elistara
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    Elistara Member

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    I wasn't kidding tho, I had a bunch of pony friends, hung around a pony club when I was younger, they would say "Park your horse over with the others..." or whatever all the time.
    But, maybe, if it grates on others minds here, that says something too about the general ideas summoned up in non-horsey peoples heads also. Maybe it is simply having grown up with horses that makes it sound smooth for me. /shrug.
     

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