I have a love/hate relationship with spell checkers. They’ve saved me some embarrassment on more than one occasion, but as often as not, they simply frustrate me. They flag words that are perfectly correct, miss misspellings they should catch, and suggest alternate words that are totally irrelevant. The English language, of course, seems specifically designed … Continue reading Spell checkers and pullet surprises
Today is 11/11/11 or 11.11.11 or 11-11-11. It’s lovely to look at. A palindrome even. But there’s nothing special about the date other than its interesting appearance. The apocalypse is not scheduled for today. Thinking otherwise, tempting as it is, means you’ve got apophenia. Apophenia is the experience of seeing meaningful patterns or connections in … Continue reading Got apophenia?
Newfangled. We all know what it means. But I started wondering if there was simply a fangle (there is), or such a thing as oldfangled (didn’t see it). The surprise to me was that it’s a single word, not two and not hyphenated, and that it dates back to the 15th Century: “Origin of NEWFANGLED … Continue reading Wordplay: newfangled
(Updated May 19, 2013) It’s hard to imagine anyone spending much time browsing the Internet without coming across the colorful coke-pop-soda map, the one showing the preferred term for a carbonated drink in each U.S. county. I did a post on it myself about two years ago and then as now wondered what some of … Continue reading Pop vs. soda vs. whatever
Still scowling into my coffee this morning, I flipped open the laptop to read my email. And there was that word, leaping from the screen: supercalifragilisticexpiali-fuck-it Big. Bright blue. A live link. I almost spewed coffee all over the keyboard. So damn funny! At that moment I didn’t know or care what the post was … Continue reading You’ll really sound precocious
When I logged on this morning, the first thing that caught my eye was the Sallust quotation in the sidebar: “Harmony makes small things grow, lack of it makes great things decay.” How appropriate to the bitter partisan divide in Washington and the nation these days. Sallust, by the way, was a Roman historian writing … Continue reading Nothing new under the sun
When my son mentioned eggcorns and I didn’t know what he was talking about, I had to go find the website. I couldn’t let him be the sole possessor of such knowledge, not when I’m the parent and the former editor. An eggcorn, it turns out, is a word or phrase misheard and then perpetuated, … Continue reading Spade cats and gas turbans
Christian militia: As in, “Nine members of a Michigan-based Christian militia group [the Hutaree] have been indicted on sedition and weapons charges in connection with an alleged plot to murder law enforcement officers in hopes of setting off an anti-government uprising.” — New York Times Continue reading Today’s oxymoron
So what’s it going to be, America? Is 2010 going to be Two Thousand Ten or Twenty Ten? Or maybe even 2K10? CNN’s poll gave a significant majority to Two Thousand Ten. Sorry, I prefer Twenty Ten. Continue reading How do you say 2010?
I used to take great pride in knowing my son’s friends thought I was the “coolest” mom. I don’t know what made them think that, but I loved it. Maybe it was because I actually enjoyed my son’s favorite music and encouraged playing it — loudly — on my big stereo. Sorry, but I don’t … Continue reading Keeping up with … the kids and kidlets
I’ve been wincing for months — every time someone uses the word teabagger on the air. Sometimes it’s the Tea Party people themselves, seemingly ignorant of the word’s original crude meaning. At other times it’s been liberals who seem to take great delight in the double entendres they are able to play with on the … Continue reading ‘Teabagger’ is here to stay
Almost four years ago I wrote a little diatribe about the frequent misuse of the word troop. This grating of media fingernails on my chalkboard continues. Naturally the media are the primary offenders as they spend so much time talking about the US military and its various activities in the Middle East. A troop is … Continue reading Media might does not make right