jducoeur: (Default)
[personal profile] jducoeur

Here's a random etymology question; I'm curious whether anybody has any insight.

One thing about the increasingly-interconnected tech community is that I wind up chatting with folks from all over the world on a near-constant basis. (At the Scala eXchange conference in December, my roommates were folks I knew from Finland, Switzerland and Singapore.) It's mostly in English, which makes life easy for me.

But I keep noticing one curious bit of language usage, that comes up constantly in technical discussions -- the use of the word "doubt", specifically usages like "I have a doubt about this feature".

In American and British English, this carries a connotation of roughly, "I don't think this is right, but I'm trying to keep an open mind", but that seems to never be intended in the online conversations: instead, it seems to be a strict synonym for "question", without any of the usual meanings attached to the word "doubt". This confused the heck out of me the first ten or so times I heard it; I'm now used to it, but it still jars the language pedant in me.

Anybody know how or where this arose? I seem to hear this usage mostly from folks in India, but it doesn't seem to be limited to there -- part of what inspired me to ask about this was somebody with an apparently Spanish name using it that way yesterday...

(no subject)

Date: 2017-06-29 02:45 pm (UTC)
drwex: (WWFD)
From: [personal profile] drwex
Maybe ask them what word that translates to in their native language?

(no subject)

Date: 2017-06-29 03:03 pm (UTC)
metahacker: A picture of white-socked feet, as of a person with their legs crossed. (Default)
From: [personal profile] metahacker
In my experience Indian English generally isn't formed from translation of some other language's construct, but has regionalisms like any other conclave of language. These are usually clear, meaning-wise, but the connotations are quite different. There are a hundred million English speakers in India--more than in all of the UK--and so there's plenty of space for the language to evolve in self-reinforcing ways.

"Do the needful" is the most visible (an Englishman might say instead "do what is needed"; Wikipedia's got a list which includes things like upgradation, something that sounds like American ironical slang.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-06-29 03:05 pm (UTC)
fitzw: (Default)
From: [personal profile] fitzw
I might use "doubt" for "concern", but I have never encountered it being used to just mean "question", and I've been working on joint projects with developers in Bengaluru (Bangalore) for several years.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-06-29 06:59 pm (UTC)
mermaidlady: heraldic mermaid in her vanity (Default)
From: [personal profile] mermaidlady
I have certainly had translators, although I can't think of specific languages right now, who say "doubt" where I would have said "question".

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