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Thread: Sundry Linguistic Ramblings of Oswiu & Leofric, et al.—all linguistic topics welcome!

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    Re: Mam and Dad

    Okay, Oswiu, I think I see what you're saying here. You're wondering why we say Dad [dæ:d] rather than Papa [<html>p<sup>h</sup>apa</html>], and thinking it might be due to Celtic influence.

    Perhaps, though I think a fellow would be quite hard pressed to prove that. Here's what the OED gives as an etymological discussion for dad:
    Occurs from the 16th c. (or possibly 15th c.), in representations of rustic, humble, or childish speech, in which it may of course have been in use much earlier, though it is not given in the Promptorium or Catholicon, where words of this class occur.
    Of the actual origin we have no evidence: but the forms dada, tata, meaning ‘father’, originating in infantile or childish speech, occur independently in many languages. It has been assumed that our word is taken from Welsh tad, mutated dad, but this is very doubtful; the Welsh is itself merely a word of the same class, which has displaced the original Celtic word for ‘father’ = Ir. athair.
    So the OED lexicographers (certainly among the best in the Anglosphere) seem to think that Dad and Tad have arisen independently, and both fairly recently. I think that last part is quite important. With the mama/papa words, it's so easy for slight changes to spring forth independent from all influence that it's next to impossible to conclusively show any kind of external influence at all for a particular form in that group. I think that dad is neither Celtic nor Germanic, in the sense that it's not inherited from the proto-language of either of those groups, but rather just . . . the way we say it today in English. I think the same principle holds for all the other words of this kind in all the languages we could discuss that use a mama/papa word.

    Quote Originally Posted by Oswiu
    For instance, if my future son AEdwulf [ ] was to start calling me Papa, I'd be wanting to wean him round to Dad. I just don't like the sound of papa, it's foreign to me.
    Great name choice! I assume you'd spell it with an ash? Ædwulf? Have you discussed it with any potential mams? I hope that if you haven't already got one such lady, you can find one who will agree with you on that name!

    But I quite agree with you — papa does seem foreign. But I think that's just because dad is so English. I don't think we can go back further in finding a source for it than ourselves.

    Quote Originally Posted by Oswiu
    I don't know, Leofric, put yourself in my shoes - if I climb to the top of the hill near my house I can see the mountains of Wales. It's not an alien world to me. My local area is full of British toponymy - Allt [hill] Ince [island] Eccles [church] Tame [dark water] Chadder [seat] ad infinitum.
    I understand the situation, but it doesn't necessarily prove your case. If I go out onto my parents' back porch, I can see a Paiute reservation. It's not an alien world to me. And the local area is full of Paiute toponymy. But that doesn't necessarily extend to kinship terms — especially baby kinship terms, which can fluctuate so much from baby to baby.

    Quote Originally Posted by Oswiu
    Perhaps the truth is more complex even than the scenario I offer above - maybe some areas use Dad because of British remnants there, and some have inherited it from Germanic settlers, and the two have converged by chance!
    This is possible, but I still think it's not inherited at all. I think it's an innovation that's purely English.

    Quote Originally Posted by Oswiu
    That's why I want to see a Scandinavian version of the word. What would young British-born Orm have called his Dad back in 900 AD?
    These are two very different questions. A lot can change in a thousand years. In fact, there are some elements of Modern English that entered Old English from Old Norse that have since died out in the Scandinavian languages, and so no longer show up there. But they are from ON, nevertheless — attested only in English among modern languages.



    Quote Originally Posted by Oswiu
    So maybe this Aramaic/Hebrew thing is a bit of that nature, and so your expected sound shifts aren't working properly?
    No, that's not what's going on. The Hebrew and the Aramaic words are just two different words.

    Quote Originally Posted by Oswiu
    What's the Arabic? Abu, isn't it?
    Yes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Oswiu
    Ought to be, anyroad!

    What's wrong with way?




    Quote Originally Posted by Ulfhednar
    Dumb and come rhyme, O'er here.
    Quite so. Could you give a transcription of mam, Oswiu, or at least describe the vowel using linguistic features, so that we can understand how it varies from the other words you have mentioned?




    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer
    Why you hafta throw big words at me.

    So, in plain english.... how do you explain the use of the word "abba" to mean father in modern day Hebrew? Was it taken from the Aramaic and adopted? From my understanding, the "Ab" (aleph-bet) meant father even in the OT, used in the word "ab"raham, for example, aka "father abraham." (I haven't studied any of this for a long time.)
    Sorry.

    The word "abba" is pronounced with two b's, while the Hebrew word is pronounced with one v. It used to be one b (back before the Bible was written), but we know it was only one and not two, since if it had been two, it would have stayed a b — that's the way Hebrew has developed over time. That's the de-jargonized version of what I said.

    Even Abraham (which certainly does have to do with the word for father) is pronounced with a v in Hebrew.

    The use of "abba" in Modern Hebrew is probably due to Aramaic influence, as it were. It must be remembered that Hebrew is not a natural language in the same sense that English or German is. Hebrew is more like Latin on one hand and Cornish on the other. The Jews stopped using it for everyday speech by the time Jesus was born, and had begun using Aramaic instead. Hebrew was kept as a liturgical and scholastic language, but it wasn't a part of everyday life (like Latin). When the Jews were scattered from Palestine, they began adopting the language of the lands they lived in for everyday speech, but infused it with occasional Semiticisms, from both Aramaic and Hebrew. When they returned to Palestine and set up a Jewish state there, they worked very hard to revive Hebrew (like Cornish). Modern Hebrew, then, is not really a full language (at least not like English or Spanish or Inuit or something) — though as it has begun to have native speakers, it has undergone some fleshing-out processes not unlike creolization. If any modern Israelis use "abba" (and I know not all do), then I would guess it's a holdover from pre-Masada Aramaic. Such a holdover is not at all unlikely in a people that has thrived on ethnic preservation through maintaining distinct traditions for two thousand years. It would also be like the Aramaic holdover "bar" for son instead of the Hebrew "ben".

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    Re: Mam and Dad

    Quote Originally Posted by Leofric
    Okay, Oswiu, I think I see what you're saying here. You're wondering why we say Dad [dæ:d] rather than Papa [<html>p<sup>h</sup>apa</html>], and thinking it might be due to Celtic influence.
    Erm, sort of. I wouldn't have expected a Papa, though. In my head that's all connected with pater and pere and padre, and us Grimm's Law fellows shouldn't have that, should we? Mind you, the Russkies have it, and there's no P in Otyets. Or did they borrow it from the upper classes who learnt it from the French? Is this why bat'ka has lost ground there? What do Poles and Serbs call their Dads?
    Perhaps, though I think a fellow would be quite hard pressed to prove that.
    That's why we're free to talk about it till the cows come home!
    Here's what the OED gives as an etymological discussion for dad:
    Good one, thanks for that! Did you copy it out, or did you find an online thing? I checked out their site, but you have to pay.
    So the OED lexicographers (certainly among the best in the Anglosphere) seem to think that Dad and Tad have arisen independently, and both fairly recently.
    That IS interesting. I'll have to dig around to find this lost Welsh term, though.
    Great name choice! I assume you'd spell it with an ash? Ædwulf? Have you discussed it with any potential mams? I hope that if you haven't already got one such lady, you can find one who will agree with you on that name!
    Hehe, I'm dying to break the Biblical/Hebrew monopoly of names in my paternal line, so why not start with something almost excessively Germanic, eh?
    As for Mams, well, I once had potential Mamochka who tentatively agreed to AEthelfrith, but we went our different ways.
    By the way, I was very stupid in my typing there, as it should be Eadwulf, with no ash at all! He was one of two such named Earls of Bamburgh in the times after the fall of the Kingdom of Northumbria to the Danes, and did his bit to keep the Northumbrian flag flying.
    I have a Gran called Eadgyth and a Grandad called Eric, so it's the good old OE alliteration within a family tradition!
    Thinking about it, AEd-wulf would be impossivble, as there's no such element AEd [unless we concern ourselves with onomastica hibernensis].
    But I quite agree with you — papa does seem foreign. But I think that's just because dad is so English. I don't think we can go back further in finding a source for it than ourselves.
    But this 'so English' thing is this culturally specific constraint on baby talk thing that I was going on about. How has the system got so 'fossilised'? Was there a period when things were more plastic and malleable? [And in such a time wouldn't a Welsh import have been more readily received? ]
    You know, I'm near enough convinced of the nonCeltic thing [and who's to say the Cymry didn't learn the new word off us in the first place? And the Gaels too!
    I understand the situation, but it doesn't necessarily prove your case. If I go out onto my parents' back porch, I can see a Paiute reservation. It's not an alien world to me. And the local area is full of Paiute toponymy. But that doesn't necessarily extend to kinship terms — especially baby kinship terms, which can fluctuate so much from baby to baby.
    Pedant; "Bad analogy - have your lads been rubbing shoulders with Paiute for 1400 years? Are you to some degree of Paiute blood?"
    Oswiu; "Aye. I get you about the kinship terms."
    These are two very different questions. A lot can change in a thousand years. In fact, there are some elements of Modern English that entered Old English from Old Norse that have since died out in the Scandinavian languages, and so no longer show up there. But they are from ON, nevertheless — attested only in English among modern languages.
    Good point [would you care to start a thread of Old Norsisms only preserved in English, perhaps? Might be interesting. I know we are the only Viking descendants who have preserved the old notion of 'Luck' in its mysterious magical sense [where the others have had the word shift to mean more chance or happenstance]]. But if there was a term very close to Dad it would take away a lot of doubt from my mind.

    Quote Originally Posted by Leofric
    Quote Originally Posted by Oswiu
    anyroad

    What's wrong with way?
    Right back at ye, Mr. Railroad!
    Here in Manchester we say 'anyroad', not 'anyway'.

    We also have 'owt' [= 'aught' = 'anything'].
    'Nowt' = naught = nothing.
    'Summat' = something.
    It annoys me that there's no special word for 'everything'...
    Quite so. Could you give a transcription of mam, Oswiu, or at least describe the vowel using linguistic features, so that we can understand how it varies from the other words you have mentioned?
    I'll have a go at the latter [I don't know how to make the IPA symbols on a computer].

    In my accent we don't have that /æ/ sound. We just have the simple /a/ like in Italian maybe. Perhaps it's a little shorter and more staccato even.

    I have a qualification to teach English as a second language, and so I had to learn the phonetic script, and unlike the Southerners I studied with, had to also learn English again, in the Standard form. No easy task, seeing as how it involved my learning entire sets of vowels I'd never made before in my life! Unfortunately, we were only taught those IPA symbols used in Southern speech, and so I can't confidently transcribe my own ejaculations. This is why I make 'mistakes' when trying to explain things by use of rhymes.

    That said, I don't think your /mã:m/ and /dæ:d/ even approximate Standard English either, they're very American sounding. Our Southerners say /m^m/ and /dæd/, I think.

    My accent also lacks the /^/ [as in RP 'cup' or 'fuck'. When Southerners try to mimic us in writing they spell it 'fook' when to my mind what they say sounds more like 'fack'!]. Its every instance is given the /U/ sound, as in RP 'bull' though I'm told we even pronounce that differently... A nightmare, isn't it?!

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    Re: Mam and Dad

    Quote Originally Posted by Oswiu
    Erm, sort of. I wouldn't have expected a Papa, though. In my head that's all connected with pater and pere and padre, and us Grimm's Law fellows shouldn't have that, should we? Mind you, the Russkies have it, and there's no P in Otyets. Or did they borrow it from the upper classes who learnt it from the French? Is this why bat'ka has lost ground there? What do Poles and Serbs call their Dads?

    But this 'so English' thing is this culturally specific constraint on baby talk thing that I was going on about. How has the system got so 'fossilised'? Was there a period when things were more plastic and malleable? [And in such a time wouldn't a Welsh import have been more readily received? ]
    You know, I'm near enough convinced of the nonCeltic thing [and who's to say the Cymry didn't learn the new word off us in the first place? And the Gaels too!
    By discussing Grimm's Law, you're still stuck on this idea that these terms have an etymology. I think most linguists agree that they spontaneously generate. I think the Englishness of the term is part of its newness, since English (or German or Frisian or Swedish) is itself quite new. A thousand years ago, the various Germanic languages were all one or maybe two languages. The modern languages are all johnny-come-latelys. So for a term to be intrinsically English is for it to be new, from my perspective.

    Good one, thanks for that! Did you copy it out, or did you find an online thing? I checked out their site, but you have to pay.
    The price is pretty steep, too! Fortunately, my university subscribes, so as a student I get in on the action. I don't know what I do when I graduate. Maybe I'll have to become a professor just so I can maintain my OED Online habit!

    Hehe, I'm dying to break the Biblical/Hebrew monopoly of names in my paternal line, so why not start with something almost excessively Germanic, eh?
    Way to go! But don't slight your Celtic half, either! There might be jewels in the onomastica hibernensis just waiting for your loving pickax.

    Thinking about it, AEd-wulf would be impossivble, as there's no such element AEd.
    That's what I was thinking, and I figured you were melding Adal- with Æthel- and then just dropping the "al", as happens in Adolf. But I wasn't going to suggest you were wrong in naming your own child — that would be ludicrous. I don't think a parent can really get naming wrong.

    Although, I once heard a story of a girl named Female (pronounced /fi-má-li/) because the mother said the hospital named her by placing a tag on her wrist when she was born. I think maybe she did get it wrong.

    Pedant; "Bad analogy - have your lads been rubbing shoulders with Paiute for 1400 years? Are you to some degree of Paiute blood?"
    Oswiu; "Aye. I get you about the kinship terms."
    Wonderful response! Yes, I'm good at drawing bad analogies, but I'm glad you get the point.

    Good point [would you care to start a thread of Old Norsisms only preserved in English, perhaps? Might be interesting.
    Well one of the things I'm thinking of most prominently is being researched by someone in my department, and I don't want to mention it online until he has a chance to publish. Then I can reference his article.

    Right back at ye, Mr. Railroad!
    Here in Manchester we say 'anyroad', not 'anyway'.

    We also have 'owt' [= 'aught' = 'anything'].
    'Nowt' = naught = nothing.
    'Summat' = something.
    It annoys me that there's no special word for 'everything'...
    You say railway? That seems to me to refer to something slightly different in my dialect, but I can't put my finger on it. Maybe the whole strip of land that belongs to the railroad company.

    But folks say anyroad in your dialect? That's excellent! I never knew. You know, I once met a man from Manchester, and it never occurred to me that he was speaking English; I could only tell that he was speaking some sort of Germanic language. But I was with two gals from Sussex, and they understood him just fine. They acted as interpreters for us. It was a fascinating experience. I wonder if you and I would be able to understand each other if we weren't writing.

    I'll have a go at the latter [I don't know how to make the IPA symbols on a computer].

    In my accent we don't have that /æ/ sound. We just have the simple /a/ like in Italian maybe. Perhaps it's a little shorter and more staccato even.

    I have a qualification to teach English as a second language, and so I had to learn the phonetic script, and unlike the Southerners I studied with, had to also learn English again, in the Standard form. No easy task, seeing as how it involved my learning entire sets of vowels I'd never made before in my life! Unfortunately, we were only taught those IPA symbols used in Southern speech, and so I can't confidently transcribe my own ejaculations. This is why I make 'mistakes' when trying to explain things by use of rhymes.

    That said, I don't think your /mã:m/ and /dæ:d/ even approximate Standard English either, they're very American sounding. Our Southerners say /m^m/ and /dæd/, I think.

    My accent also lacks the /^/ . Its every instance is given the /U/ sound, as in RP 'bull' though I'm told we even pronounce that differently... A nightmare, isn't it?!
    Oh English vowels are monstrous all over the world. I love them! And since we have no language academy (except for S. Africa I think), we are all free to say them however we like. A true testament to Anglo-Saxon libertarianism. So you use the short /a/ for mam? and for come? And you use /U/ for dumb?

    You say you all say bull differently in your area. In my area, the word is pronounced the same way bowl is pronounced in the rest of the American dialect region (and bowl is pronounced that same way here as well). Like this:
    <html><table><tr><td><td>American English<td>My Area<tr><td>bowl<td>said like bowl<td>said like bowl<tr><td>bull<td>said like bull<td>said like bowl</table></html>
    Is that, by any chance, going on your area as well?

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    Re: Mam and Dad

    Quote Originally Posted by Leofric
    By discussing Grimm's Law, you're still stuck on this idea that these terms have an etymology.
    Not exactly, but just that if P- words no longer signify male parent, then a baby is not going to be encouraged to make them in that context.
    I think most linguists agree that they spontaneously generate. I think the Englishness of the term is part of its newness, since English (or German or Frisian or Swedish) is itself quite new. A thousand years ago, the various Germanic languages were all one or maybe two languages.
    2006 - 1000 = 1006. You're saying that Norse, Frankish [206 years after Charlemagne's big day], Bairisch and the other Althochdeutsch tongues, not to mention Gothic which still had a few centuries of life left in it, constituted one or two languages? Let's ignore GOthic. But even then I'd say Norse, NWGermanic [later English + Frisian], OLG and OHG were languages in their own right. I was reading Frank Stenton the other day, and he said summat like OE was quite distinct from Old Continental Saxon even in the period of the return from Britain following the Badon disaster, thus making it possible to spy traces of the settlers who came to the region Engilin [north of the River Unstrut] on dialect features alone, even were we to not have the tradition of the return migration as recorded by the monks of Fulda".
    Perhaps you're going on the reports of mutual intelligibility - but doth that really a language make? I bet you'd need a damn lot of getting used to the other languages I've proposed here before you could hold anything beyond the most perfunctory conversation.
    To what time do we date the sound shifts that produced Hochdeutsch?
    The price is pretty steep, too! Fortunately, my university subscribes, so as a student I get in on the action. I don't know what I do when I graduate. Maybe I'll have to become a professor just so I can maintain my OED Online habit!
    Aye, it's shocking the elitism and retention of knowledge from the masses inherent in all this. Who OWNS the bloody OED, anyway? It''s the closest thing we have to an Academy so it should exist for the good of the English people. I bet we finance it.
    Way to go! But don't slight your Celtic half, either! There might be jewels in the onomastica hibernensis just waiting for your loving pickax.
    They'll have the surname! And I debate whether or not to call the second son Llywarch... Or Lugumarcos [same name]. I don't have any Welsh as such in my known pedigree, but he was a local man. I toyed with Yaroslav when I was with a Russkaya. Yarik is the short form and nicely echoes Eric, and I liked the connection with Yaroslav the Wise, who was on intimate terms with the Swedish courts of his day, not to mention a good Knyaz [Konungaz].
    Hmm, I'll refer you to my earlier comments on the "cringingly fashionable" nature of things Irish, including names, these days.
    I don't think a parent can really get naming wrong.
    I do, and would even like to see legislation on the matter, such as they have in France. I would demand a precedent from history. Ideally I'd even demand a degree of ethnic suitability. "You want to call your kid Kevin? Are you Irish? No? Well tough!"
    You say railway?
    Of course we do. Don't you watch our television programmes ever?
    That seems to me to refer to something slightly different in my dialect, but I can't put my finger on it. Maybe the whole strip of land that belongs to the railroad company.
    That's curious. We don't really have such a concept.
    You know, I once met a man from Manchester, and it never occurred to me that he was speaking English; I could only tell that he was speaking some sort of Germanic language. But I was with two gals from Sussex, and they understood him just fine. They acted as interpreters for us. It was a fascinating experience. I wonder if you and I would be able to understand each other if we weren't writing.
    Hehe! THat's great! I even met a girl from Kent once, who was a very ignorant person, and thought I was Scotch, just cos I say "Oh aye" occasionally... What can be done with people who don't even know their own?
    And by the way, you'd understand me just fine. With a day or so's practice to iron out the little problems. I'm a bit posh, you see. Went to Grammar School, and University, and lived abroad a while. I had a Texan girlfriend too. You wouldn't understand my Dad though! I don't sometimes! He came to Russia a few times when I was there and it was hilarious to see the pained expressions on the faces of students who thought they'd mastered all there was to know of the English language before they heard these sounds....
    So you use the short /a/ for mam? and for come? And you use /U/ for dumb?
    Yep. Nope. Yep.
    Come is KUM. It was only recently that I realised the slang for orgasm's different spelling actually reflected a different pronunciation.
    <html><table><tr><td><td>American English<td>My Area<tr><td>bowl<td>said like bowl<td>said like bowl<tr><td>bull<td>said like bull<td>said like bowl</table></html>
    Is that, by any chance, going on your area as well?
    It's something a bit more subtle, I can't explain it, as I can't even hear it, but Southern friends tell me it's there.

    Sometimes, 'bowl' is almost bisyllabic where I live! 'School' and 'fire' definitely are.

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    Re: Mam and Dad

    You two are turning this into a whole new thread topic!

    Anyhow.... should we get back to the topic of mom and dad?

    (Sorry, I just wanted to add "anyhow" since you were both saying anyway and anyroad.)
    "I do not know what horrified me most at that time: the economic misery of my companions, their moral and ethical coarseness, or the low level of their intellectual development." Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf

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    Re: Mam and Dad

    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer
    You two are turning this into a whole new thread topic!

    Anyhow.... should we get back to the topic of mom and dad?
    Do we gotta?

    All right.

    Quote Originally Posted by Oswiu
    Not exactly, but just that if P- words no longer signify male parent, then a baby is not going to be encouraged to make them in that context.
    Not necessarily. Germans, if I understand correctly, say Papi for their fathers (I just verified it with my native German mother-in-law), yet they have undergone Grimm's law like the rest of us.

    These words are not related to the normal words for mother and father except by accident. Even in languages where the normal word is completely different, mama/papa words still enter the language. It's a language universal.

    I'll reply to the rest via PM.

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    Re: Mam and Dad

    I don't know, Leofric, put yourself in my shoes - if I climb to the top of the hill near my house I can see the mountains of Wales. It's not an alien world to me. My local area is full of British toponymy - Allt [hill] Ince [island] Eccles [church] Tame [dark water] Chadder [seat] ad infinitum.
    Or Pen-y-Ghent across the border in Yorkshire?

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    Re: Mam and Dad

    Quote Originally Posted by Leofric
    Do we gotta?
    Aye
    ('s my ffred, I set i' up 'n evryfink... grr, mumble grumble razzer frazzer fuckerin' fuckertash... ]
    Not necessarily. Germans, if I understand correctly, say Papi for their fathers (I just verified it with my native German mother-in-law), yet they have undergone Grimm's law like the rest of us.
    But can you imagine a Mediaeval Deutscher saying it? I'm tempted to view it as yet another example of Francophilia. The aristocrats in Germany were as guilty as the Russian ones for speaking in French. THey could have adopted it first, desiring to bring up their Kinder in the most 'modern' way possible [like the fools nowadays who go mad for Dr. Spock's child rearing doctrines instead of trusting to their own family's traditions {okay, I know I'm about forty years behind the times with that example, but you know what I mean!}]
    These words are not related to the normal words for mother and father except by accident.
    Find me some examples of societies where Papa = mother and Mama = father, then.
    Even in languages where the normal word is completely different, mama/papa words still enter the language. It's a language universal.
    I've already explained my own aversion to the Papa thing, arising from highly historical factors. Similar things must have been in operation in all past times, allowing for more 'permissive' phases.
    I'll reply to the rest via PM.
    That IS a shame. The People need to Know!

    OnTOpicness is an awful straitjacket for me.

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    Re: Mam and Dad

    Quote Originally Posted by Oswiu

    That IS a shame. The People need to Know!

    OnTOpicness is an awful straitjacket for me.
    Just make a new thread with the new topic.
    "I do not know what horrified me most at that time: the economic misery of my companions, their moral and ethical coarseness, or the low level of their intellectual development." Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf

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    Re: Mam and Dad

    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer
    Just make a new thread with the new topic.
    But I'm too shy! I hate to scroll down the main forum page and see that all recent post and started threads have my name on them!

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