Populace

Oros

Senior Member
Korean
1. EU's populace enjoys common currency, free travel ..........

Would you write the above to indicate the people of the EU.
 
  • Rob625

    Senior Member
    English - England
    No, I wouldn't write that. "Populace" has a rather oldfashioned sound, to my ear.

    Also, it isn't true: not all the EU has a common currency. And travel isn't free, either; it isn't even entirely free of border controls, which I suppose is what you are getting at.
     

    rayb

    Senior Member
    Chile - Spanish
    Oros said:
    Would you say the word populace is a old or rather obsolete word?
    In fact, populace is an old French noun, which IMHO isn't obsolete at all, to the extent that it has been largely used by polititians all over the world until nowadays, at least since the French Revolution. Populace has been used in French and English to describe common people, plebeians or massive mouvements.

    The following quote seems to me quite illustratif at this respect: "The tumultuous populace of large cities are ever to be dreaded. Their indiscriminate violence prostrates for the time all public authority, and its consequences are sometimes extensive and terrible"
    George Washington

    Regards
     

    foxfirebrand

    Senior Member
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    The word populace is common and very much alive in AE. Some speakers confuse it, at least in spelling, with the adj populous, though-- a different word entirely of course.

    You see it in all sorts of modern writings, and I'd associate it with textbooks, possibly in geography or political science-- that's in the U.S., as I say.

    Rayb's point about classes of people or movements is well taken. A populace isn't a simple numerical aggregate of people, there's a sense of the collective, or cohesion or even sense of purpose -- as in "the electorate."
     

    Oros

    Senior Member
    Korean
    I have learnt the word hoi polloi to mention the common mass.

    1.The hoi polloi are not in favor of Government's tax reforms.

    In AmE, would you write the words 'the populace' instead of 'the hoi polloi' ?
     

    DesertCat

    Senior Member
    inglese | English
    Hoi polloi isn't commonly used in AE. I wouldn't write either. I also don't see the word populace used all that often. And in fact, in your sentence, I think it's more likely to see something along the lines of "The voters are not in favor of Government's tax reforms." or "The taxpayers are not in favor of Government's tax reforms."
     

    remosfan

    Senior Member
    Canada, English
    I agree with DesertCat. Using "hoi polloi" is best avoided completely. It doesn't sound English, it doesn't look English, and it's "hoity-toity" (just to be careful, to me at least), and it sounds like "hoity-toity" as well. I also agree that "populace" (along with "electorate") sounds like something politicians use, and to me they even sound very American, since American politics sounds more stately. DesertCat's sentences are the ones I'd use as well and for your original, I'd have just said "The people of the EU..."
     

    Kelly B

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Hoi polloi has the pejorative tone of the elite looking down upon the masses, the rabble, the commoners.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Kelly B said:
    Hoi polloi has the pejorative tone of the elite looking down upon the masses, the rabble, the commoners.
    I think populace suffers a bit from the same tone.
    :thumbsup: I like Remosfan's answer, "The people of the EU...":thumbsup:
     

    foxfirebrand

    Senior Member
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    Populace is not pejorative in AE. And it's not a word like proletariat whose meaning can be loaded, positive or negative depending on one's political outlook. True, you can say "The populace was up in arms," but that doesn't even faintly connote a rabble or mob with torches and pitchforks-- it means that public opinion is a bit exercised over some issue.

    I think the historical experience dividing AE and BE on this issue may be the American Revolution, and I suspect French usage might derive from their revolution as well. This is not to say that a "populace" is always rebellious, as you could also say "The populace consider their town a regional cultural mecca." Yes, I used singular and plural-- I think singular is more common.

    I'm touching on a difference in collective nouns between AE and BE in general here, I think. We don't say "the enemy were at the gates." Sounds very old world, or "old school" at best.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Like ffb, I suspect another AE/BE thing here, no doubt related to our different perceptions of history. The OED definition is clear: The mass of the people of a community, as distinguished from the titled, wealthy, or educated classes; the common people; invidiously, the mob, the rabble.
    The Oxford American Dictionary of Current English, rather tantalisingly, gives: The common people. - which rather makes me wonder: what do you understand by the word common in this context:)
     

    foxfirebrand

    Senior Member
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    Wow, "the common people" throws me a little in this context. The nuance conveyed by the phrase "in common" might be a clue, and also a phrase we discussed in a recent thread, "the common good."

    We hear "she's dead common" in TV britcoms, and it doesn't resonate at all. Sure we're just as class-conscious in our own way, but it's more a matter of style than birth, something you do rather than something you are-- that makes you, well, trashy. To us common means somethign commonplace, like "the common cold" or "common sense" (wish it were commonplace).

    I guess "lowest/least common denominator" comes close to the BE connotation, when used as a social rather than mathmatical term. And we do have terms like, "why you're just a common thief." As opposed to a classy thief though? Cary Grant in It Takes a Thief?

    "Common courtesy" comes to mind-- definitely a sign of "class." No, our fetish for democratization, at least in rhetorical expression, pretty much precludes the idea that what is common is base in any way.

    We award medals for "uncommon valor," but even there we see that virtue as something anyone can rise to, given the circumstances. Americans singled out in this way are likely to say hell, I ain't no heero.

    Time to come up for air-- have I drifted over into the double-negative thread?
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    foxfirebrand said:
    Wow, "the common people" throws me a little in this context. The nuance conveyed by the phrase "in common" might be a clue, and also a phrase we discussed in a recent thread, "the common good."
    Good point ffb. I hadn't thought of "common" that way - "common land" and indeed as in Commonwealth.
     
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