Language Question

Discussion in 'Old & Bold' started by Kaye, Dec 13, 2010.

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  1. Ladies,

    Maybe I'm falling for an obvious Americanism here, but what exactly is the difference between 'instantly' and 'instantaneous'?

    It feels like one of those 'making things (me!) sound more important by making words unnecessarily complicated. A bit like some senior NCO's I know, actually...
  2. "Instantaneous" is the adjective, ie it describes something; eg. "The response from the audience was instantaneous" ie describes the response itself.

    "Instantly" is an adverb which describes how something/someone actually did something; eg. "The audience responded instantly" ie describing how the audience responded.

    Both mean "without any noticable delay" but one describes the noun while the other describes the action.
  3. Am assuming you're Dutch? Part of the difficulty is that one would probably use the same words in Dutch to convey both instantly and instantaneously.

    Apart from the fact that instantly is an adverb [bijwoord] (describes a verb) and instantaneous is an adjective [bijvoegelijk naamwoord] (describes a thing), it's more a question of usage.

    "He saw the car coming and instantly ducked behind the hedge."

    "When he saw the car coming, the effect was instantaneous: he ducked behind the hedge."

    It would be weird usage to say "instantaneously ducked behind the hedge," even though instantaneously, as an adverb, could technically be used to describe ducked. But you will find it used that way, and that is indeed a case of someone trying to sound impressive and making themselves sound pompous in the process. I think it's a bit like saying "Hij ging onverwijld in dekking" instead of "Hij ging meteen/onmiddelijk in dekking."

    Van Dale has this:

    in·stan·ta·ne·ous (bijvoeglijk naamwoord; bijwoord: instantaneously; afleiding: instantaneousness)
    ogenblikkelijk, onverwijld

    instantaneous exposure

    in·stant·ly (bijwoord)

    ogenblikkelijk, terstond, dadelijk

    I'd add "meteen" as another translation of instantly, but not of instantaneous.

    Has that made things clearer, or muddied the waters totally?!?
  4. Holy crap! I'll look into your English Language class after I've had a good nights' sleep (and some coffee!)

    But thank you for your explanation!

    En, ja, ik ben een kaaskop :)
  5. I've just changed my post because I was wrong (a couple of gin and tonics being the problem) in using the word "instantaneously" I've changed it to "instantly." "Instantaneously" does exist but in most cases "instantly" is just as good and, as you say, less complicated. There may be an element of people using "instantaneously" because it's longer and sounds more technical.
  6. Hello Flaggie,

    Thank you for your explanation. Especially the difference between a bijwoord and a bijvoeglijk naamwoord were helpful. In those terms I still don't know the proper English terms, so it's difficult to ask the correct question!
    But: Adverb and Adjective, I learnt something new!

    Dubb-Al-Ibn, you were very clear as well, but as I said: when you don't grasp the full and correct meaning of the English terminology it's difficult to 'get it'. You second post cleared that up very well!

    Now that we're talking: Obsolescent and Obsolete. Wuz duh differens?
  7. "Obsolescent" means it is on its way out of service and is in the process of being replaced, "Obsolete" means it is already out of service. (Lies down in a darkened room for a rub-down with Webster's Dictionary)
  8. Beat me to it!

    One of many online dictionaries that clarifies this:

    LingvoSoft Online gives "in onbruik gerakend, langzaam verdwijnend" for obsolescent and "verouderd, in onbruik geraakt" for obsolete. But I've an idea that in all but the most formal texts you'd use a phrase to convey the idea of "obsolescent," on the lines of "wordt straks niet meer gebruikt" or "wordt nauwelijks meer gebruikt." The expression "in onbruik gerakend" got only 48 hits in Google, many of them in dictionaries!
  9. Thanks again people!