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April 29, 2004

From correspondence
Posted by Teresa at 01:43 PM *

This came from Lisa Spangen, of Digital Medievalist:


It was thoughtful of you two to link to my site in your thanks for my husband, Michael’s, help.

But looking at the referrals is rather interesting. Let’s face it, Medieval Celtic literature and early Celtic cultures and linguistics isn’t exactly the most popular subject, despite the recent increase in New Age and Neo Pagan enthusiasms for all things Celtic.

But almost every referral from your site is spending five to ten minutes looking around on my site, and an unusual number is spending much more than that. My average browser is from an .edu address, and spends about two minutes, though they tend to be repeat visitors.

What kind of readers have you got?
Comments on From correspondence:
#1 ::: Bill Blum ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2004, 02:07 PM:

What kind of readers have you got?

Hang out a while, follow the comments, and find out.

#2 ::: Scorpio ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2004, 02:10 PM:

Eccentric ones? :: grinning ::


#3 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2004, 02:13 PM:

Medieval digitisers?

#4 ::: Murph ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2004, 02:18 PM:

Well rounded. Except any who are more angular.


#5 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2004, 02:26 PM:

To take a tiny excerpt from one of my web pages
If You Like This, You'll Like That"

The Celtic Pantheon has been heavily strip-mined by modern Celtic Fantasy.
Technically speaking, there are at least 3 different branches of Celtic myths:
(1) Wales and Cornwall [the "Insular Brythonic"]
(2) the Western Highlands of Scotland, the Isle of Man, and Ireland
[the "Goidelic"]
(3) Brittany ["the Coninental Brythonic"] as best surveyed in modern
Fantasy by Poul and Karen Anderson.

Celtic deities, who include Cernunnos, Lir, Lugh, and Mabon, were described in the
Mabinogion. The magical Tuatha De Danaan ousted the Fir Bholg from
Ireland. Nuadha, the leader of the Tuatha De Danaan, lost his arm in the
battle and had a silver prosthesis, thus becoming renamed Nuadha
Airgedlamh (of the Silver Hand), and he lated abdicated to make way for
Lugh. Eventually, the Tuatha De Danaan were in turn ousted by the
Milesians (Gaelic Irish) for whom the Tuatha De Danaan were worshipped.
The name "Ireland" comes from the Tuatha De Danaan goddess Eriu, which
became Eire, as she first foretold that the land would be ruled by the
Celtic Pantheon at least 171
articles in the Encyclopedia Mythica.

Mabinogion: the central body of myths and legends of Britain in the Welsh
language, see WALES, mostly found in:
* The White Book of Rhydderch [circa 1300-1350]
* The Red Book of Hergest [circa 1400-13450]
* The Mabinogion [1838-1849] first English translation by
Lady Charlotte Guest
* The Mabinogion [1948; revised 1974; revised 1982] definitive
translation by Gwyn Jones and Thomas Jones
(according to "The Encyclopedia of Fantasy", John Clute & John Grant,
St.Martin's, 1997, pp.600-601)

Herne the Hunter: Celtic Mythology, a.k.a. Cernonnos, stag's-horned, god
of the Forest, ruthlessly suppressed by Christianity who deemed him
evil and adopted his horns for "Satan." Shakespeare mentions him in
"The Merry Wives of Windsor." See Devil.

#6 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2004, 02:34 PM:

Slow readers? (Bah-DUM-dum!)

#7 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2004, 02:36 PM:

Are you really sure you want to know? (grim)

#8 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2004, 02:48 PM:

Oh, my. We've MakingLighted the poor woman's site.

#9 ::: sennoma ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2004, 02:54 PM:

Blast, Stefan beat me to it.

#10 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2004, 03:14 PM:

Wait, let me check my geek chart to see where I fall today....

Mark (an avid lurker who can't post as fast as you all. Are your bosses NEVER around?)

#11 ::: sean bosker ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2004, 03:53 PM: I'm an aquarius?

#12 ::: Sylvia Li ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2004, 03:54 PM:

Readers who, among other things, care deeply about history and ancient cultures.

So... a lot of you may be interested to read this followup on the archeological treasures in Iraq.

(Hey, how's that for a smooth segue from thread topic to what I came here to post?)

#13 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2004, 04:05 PM:

Since she says she maintains the site spelling-error free, should I tell her about the two spelling errors I found? It seems sort of mean, but it would help explain what kind of readers Teresa has...

#14 ::: Cassandra Phillips-Sears ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2004, 04:10 PM:

More on the Iraqi treasures: the little goat sculpture wasn't taken. It's on display right now at UPenn's "Treasures from the Royal Tombs of Ur" exhibit--which I am going to see in two weeks!

#15 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2004, 04:15 PM:

I don't know what everyone else was doing at the site, but I read most of the FAQs (which took a little while). I always find it interesting to read a good FAQ (assuming the subject is not so arcane I can't understand the questions).

#16 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2004, 05:12 PM:

What kind of reader am I?

Dunno. But I'm a medievalist. And I write fantasy. And at the last MLA convention I went to, I hung with the Celticists. So... that's me.

#17 ::: Darkhawk ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2004, 06:00 PM:

Miscellaneous. Eclectic. Random.

Perhaps markedly literate, or at least suffering from the compulsion to read any text that presents itself, including cereal boxes.

#18 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2004, 06:14 PM:

I was mostly looking at her site to see how many of the links (and especially the books listed in her bibliographies) were familiar to me, since I've done quite a bit of research in Celtic and related areas. This took considerably more than five minutes, and because I was at home where I have a dial-up modem is not the only reason.

And bookmarking her pages for future reference, too, of course!

#19 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2004, 06:27 PM:

We're all part of the Rikki Tikki Tavi club, whose motto is "Run and find out!"

#20 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2004, 07:02 PM:

Intellectual packrats, the lot of us.

#21 ::: John (B). ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2004, 07:28 PM:

Well, I just can't resist following links to wherever it is they end up. For example, your particle link...

...took me through the rest of Cat and Girl...

...then on to another site that Dorothy Gambrell posts to...

...and thence on to following up on what it is that her sixth grade class have done with their lives, for example Eliza Strickland...

I'd never thought of doing that with Google, but now, thanks to your posting of a link to a comic about "the Old Gods", I'm tempted to scan in myself an old class photo and see how many of the people I went to school with there are that I can chase up.

So yeah, if you link to somebody's site I'm going to hunt around all of its nooks and crannies and see where it can take me.

#22 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2004, 08:06 PM:

JVP, does everything remind you of you?


Intellectual packrats, yes. People who don't think Jeopardy contestants are weird mutants. In love with cool information for its own sake. Fond of science and technology. Equally fond of language and history. Archaeology = salted peanuts.

Raise your hand if you already know that you can use marshmallows in a microwave oven to demonstrate the speed of light.

#23 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2004, 08:18 PM:

But not the speed of light in a vacuum -- you need a different appliance for that.

#24 ::: Tiger Spot ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2004, 09:03 PM:
Raise your hand if you already know that you can use marshmallows in a microwave oven to demonstrate the speed of light.

::fails to raise hand::

::hopes someone will explain how this works::

::hopes it works with mini-marshmallows or Peeps, because they are left over from a party and will almost certainly not be eaten (or missed)::

#25 ::: Richard Parker ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2004, 09:19 PM:

Tiger Spot:

Find the speed of light with marshmallows here.

Demonstrate Boyle's Law with a marshmallow here.

#26 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2004, 09:25 PM:

I had not heard about the marshmallow experiment before - very neat. I had heard about the one where you can use a grape and a microwave oven to produce a ball of plasma, but I haven't gotten around to trying it. Yet.

#27 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2004, 09:31 PM:

"People who don't think Jeopardy contestants are weird mutants."

Well, I should hope not, since at least one such contestant posts here. (Not me -- I was quite put out that they moved the show from NYC to California just before I moved to Guess Where. Coincidence . . . ?)

Then again, as I -am- a weird mutant, perhaps I shouldn't try for everything at once.

And my ladyfriend was among the first to demonstrate that you can use Marshmallow Peeps in a microwave to demonstrate that the Age of Chivalry is not dead, though it does go pop and squeak a lot.

#28 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2004, 10:18 PM:

I'd totally forgotten about my hero, Rikki-tikki-tavi! Thanks.

But my mind is a total mash of useless information. I've even been known, when playing Jack Attack, to come up with matching FOOTBALL stadium names with cities 100%. Lordy, I hate football, but I live with two people who live and breathe it during the season. Yikes!!!

But then I lettered in high school in a competition called Categories, where we went on local TV as school teams and basically did trivia. We practiced and everything. With my favorite teacher, my Latin teacher.

I've been told that you don't want to play Peeps games in your microwave unless you're prepared to do a lot of cleanup. Or then put the thing on the curb.... Peep Jousting comes to mind (get two peeps, put them on the turntable or each on a paper plate, put a toothpick in them, turn on the microwave. The first one to pierce the other wins... I've never had the nerve to try it after the SO of a good friend did and, though she doesn't cook, just uses the thing to reheat stuff, said, "Not in MY Microwave, better to go to the thrift store and buy a slag microwave for this... then I won't be peeved by a sticky microwave!"

Part of the reason is that they catch the 'wave' and blow up lots faster than you'd expect anything possibly could. Probably because of lots o'incarcerated, heat expanded air!

#29 ::: Nancy Hanger ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2004, 10:18 PM:

What sort of reader am I? The kind of spent her senior year of undergrad writing theses for literature on medieval Arthurian lit., and for history on the golden age of the Celts in Britain. And for my masters, I was hip-deep in influences of the Red & White Branches of Irish mythology on children's literature (yeah, kiddie lit. for a masters. Go me. Someone explain to me why I only rarely get the time to edit kid's books?)

Granted, that was over twenty years ago, but my interest hasn't waned in Celtic literature, though I have less time than ever to play in it like a pig in mud. Ahhhh. Miss that.

#30 ::: BSD ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2004, 10:48 PM:

Well, I'm not a celticist. Intellectual packrat, sure, but who isn't? (Where I sit, I'm in constant danger of my grandmother's History of the Jews being knocked onto my head by my grandfather's medical text.)

Put simply, we're the sort of people who are always out of bookspace.

#31 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2004, 10:49 PM:

Must buy marshmallows. Crack of dawn tomorrow, buy marshmallows.

I regard myself, reader-wise, as an amalgam of otter, Curious George, distractable two-year-old, and unsuccessful PhD. candidate. I can't speak for anyone else.

(And I used to schedule my classes so I could be back in the dorm for Jeopardy at noon...)

#32 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2004, 10:53 PM:

Teresa Nielsen Hayden quite reasonably asks:
"JVP, does everything remind you of you?"

Well, if I were a genuine solipsist, I would not need to answer.

Second, although I am a card-carrying egocentric, I do have a family and business partners and friends, none of which would be possible without some intentional reciprocity on my part.

Third, I often distinguish between an artist and the artist's work.

That is, if I read certain postings on your blog, I might say "that interests me in part because I wrote something related to that." In which case, I thought it appropriate to excerpt my older writing.

If what I provide is interesting, does it matter that I wrote it, instead of some other author? That is, if I give a link to one of my 900+ pages, is that inherently self-serving and/or uninteresting, compared to my linking to a 3rd party page? I'm honestly not sure. Reasonable people might differ.

Sometimes on your blog, I've taken a line of yours (such as the God who created fibonacci spirals in flowers) and taken some time and effort to give what I thought was a pretty good set of annotated links for your readers who wanted more. In that case, the anotations were original, but none of the links were to my work.

In other cases, I've written an original response, which sparked a cascade of comments and comments to comments, none involving a page of mine.

Some cases were painfully self-referencing, of the name-dropping variety. Sometimes they were revelatory or confessional, things that I'd never thought before, or disclosed before, which might even admit to faults that were not to my immediate benefit to mention.

I try to maintain some mix of types of responses, If there is a psychiatrically abnormal bias to that mix, or a violation of politesse and protocol, you do me a favor to tell me.

What did I step in this time, pray tell?


Jonathan Vos Post

#33 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2004, 11:28 PM:


What did I step in this time, pray tell?

You'll have to await T's response, but from here her comment sounded like amused exasperation, not to be taken overly hard. For my part, I think most of what you post is interesting. (Which is not say I agree with everything you say, as past commentation has doubtless clarified!)

#34 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2004, 11:32 PM:

On a more Celtic note:

Does anyone know why it is the Boston Seltics and not the Boston Keltics?

#35 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2004, 11:35 PM:

I wonder how much Nancy would charge for a whole slew of buttons saying, "Rikki Tikki Tavi Club". Perhaps with, "Run and find out," in smaller letters below it


#36 ::: Greg ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2004, 11:37 PM:

I'm a budding geomicrobiochemist or something like that or an astrobiologist perhaps (I'm pretty sure they reproduce by budding too).

I do believe that as a whole the folks here are lovers of the obscure and interesting.

You and you Celtic page have now been adopted lovingly. "You're stuck with us now" followed by an evil, evil laugh.

#37 ::: betsy ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2004, 12:05 AM:

mkk: $3 each, assuming more than three get made, i do believe. and i think a sizable order could be made.

#38 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2004, 12:23 AM:

Another possibility that occured to me: readers who use browsers such as Avant and forget to close the window when they're done with it...
Mostly interested and interesting people here, though. I'd go as far as to wager the two are connected had I a significant bet.

Anyone also like to type random words in google to see what will pop up ?

#39 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2004, 12:24 AM:

I've been reading Making Light for a couple of years now, so I know this is a special place, but it was interesting to see raw numerical data to back that up.

Xopher, I'm exceedingly dyslexic, and between that and a general inability to proof my own text, despite multiple attempts to do that, errors do creep in, then they spawn and multiply. The reference to an absence of spelling and grammatical errors on my top page is meant to be a joke. I do appreciate (thanks Julia!) the efforts of those who point out my many errors, and I do fix them. If you only spot a few, you're not looking hard enough; I find a new one every time I turn around.

Andy Perrin, the answer to your question regarding /keltic/ versus /seltic/ is here:

#40 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2004, 12:29 AM:

Lisa -- thanks for being the occasion of this thread. It's being fun, at least for me! And I thought your site was Pretty Darn Cool when I could go look from a fast connection. Hope we see more of you hanging out here!

#41 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2004, 12:32 AM:

Lisa: One answer is, someone who, among other things, is one of the only two people in Winnipeg who have ever received a postcard from a Malaysian friend that was written in Welsh. At the time I could even read most of it. I'm a spurious scholar who nonetheless likes at least finding sources to nudge her in the right direction.

Um, Teresa, did you catch the Name error Lisa was too kind to note?

#42 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2004, 12:35 AM:

Lisa: I saw that a minute ago. (Having posted the question, it immediately occurred to me that I could look up the answer myself. And where would I go to find the answer, but...) Thing is, my question is still not answered. I know now that one can pronounce it either way, but not why the Celtics pronounce it the way they do. Their website was no help.

#43 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2004, 12:39 AM:

Andy abruptly remembers his manners.

Thank you, Lisa, for the link!

#44 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2004, 01:34 AM:


Damn, I thought the "speed of light in a vacuum" bit was good, and the Rikki Tikki Tavi bit was a throwaway.

Oh well, guess I'll just keep tossing in random comments and not count on which ones people will grab as fun.

#45 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2004, 02:04 AM:

Q: What happened to Wayne Szalinski when he was measuring C on cleaning day, while he was small?

A: He ended up measuring the speed of light in a vacuum.

[if that makes no sense, remember the mad scientist played by Rick Moranis in "Honey I Shrunk the Kids"]

Actually, I've always been secretly irked, ever since a child, when someone referred to a "vacuum cleaner" [Hoover] as a "vacuum", and that transferred more recently to those who call a "microwave oven" a "microwave." Secondarily, I object to people saying "nuked" when they meant "heated in a mcrowave over." After all, it's not the nuclei they are perturbing, but the electrons...

On the other hand, people have expressed exasperation when I refer to a diskette as a "floppy disk." They say "there's nothing floppy about it" and tap it on a table top. No sense of history...

What a cleverly written story "Rikki-tikki-tavi" is (or Chapter of The Jungle Book). Prefaced by a poem. Opening hook sentence:

"This is the story of the great war that Rikki-tikki-tavi fought single-handed, through the bath-rooms of the big bungalow in Segowlee cantonment. Darzee, the Tailorbird, helped him, and Chuchundra, the musk-rat, who never comes out into the middle of the floor, but always creeps round by the wall, gave him advice, but Rikki-tikki did the real fighting."

Then backtrack to describe the central character:

"He was a mongoose, rather like a little cat in his fur and his tail, but quite like a weasel in his head and his habits. His eyes and the end of his restless nose were pink. He could scratch himself anywhere he pleased with any leg, front or back, that he chose to use. He could fluff up his tail till it looked like a bottle brush, and his war cry as he scuttled through the long grass was: 'Rikk-tikk-tikki-tikki-tchk!'"

Then set the place and time, and show how the primary and secondary characters met:

"One day, a high summer flood washed him out of the burrow where he lived with his father and mother, and carried him, kicking and clucking, down a roadside ditch. He found a little wisp of grass floating there, and clung to it till he lost his senses. When he revived, he was lying in the hot sun on the middle of a garden path, very draggled indeed, and a small boy was saying, 'Here's a dead mongoose. Let's have a funeral.'"

Complete the action that sets up:

"No," said his mother, "let's take him in and dry him. Perhaps he isn't really dead."

"They took him into the house, and a big man picked him up between his finger and thumb and said he was not dead but half choked. So they wrapped him in cotton wool, and warmed him over a little fire, and he opened his eyes and sneezed."

"'Now,' said the big man (he was an Englishman who had just moved into the bungalow), 'don't frighten him, and we'll see what he'll do.'"

Then hint at the viewpoint and motivation of the primary character [and introduce the motto that should be pinned or T-shirted]:

"It is the hardest thing in the world to frighten a mongoose, because he is eaten up from nose to tail with curiosity. The motto of all the mongoose family is 'Run and find out,' and Rikki-tikki was a true mongoose. He looked at the cotton wool, decided that it was not good to eat, ran all round the table, sat up and put his fur in order, scratched himself, and jumped on the small boy's shoulder.

"Don't be frightened, Teddy," said his father. "That's his way of making friends."

And on it goes. A very model of classic Science Fiction in the Campbell mode: an alien who thinks as well as a human (for story purposes), but not like a human.

Of course, Kipling WAS a science fiction author and poet...

#46 ::: Nancy Hanger ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2004, 02:23 AM:

My own personal theory as to why the Boston basketball team is pronounced "Sel-tics" --

It's because Bostonians had run out of places to misplace R's, so they had to move on to other consonants to abuse.

#47 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2004, 03:10 AM:

You might or might not appreciate the mongoose had you been surprised by one leaping out of a 50-gallon drum (used as a rubbish bin on a construction site) at 0730 one morning, as I was. They're pretty fast critters, most of the time.

They arrived here (Hawai'i) as part of a biocontrol experiment. They were supposed to kill the rat population. Regrettably, nobody knew that one species was diurnal and the other nocturnal (or so the story goes). Anyway, we have lots of both now.

#48 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2004, 03:45 AM:

"Gentlemen, only one thing can save Hawaii now. I give you . . . the vampire mongoose."

Coming this fall: COLD NIGHTS IN PARADISE, the first animated series from Joss Whedon.

Is anyone still not clear on why I don't work in Hollywood?

#49 ::: Simon ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2004, 04:35 AM:

I spent more than 10 minutes, but I wasn't reading; I was looking for the nekkid pix.

#50 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2004, 07:01 AM:

>My own personal theory as to why the Boston >basketball team is pronounced "Sel-tics" --

>It's because Bostonians had run out of places to >misplace R's, so they had to move on to other >consonants to abuse.

Which doesn't explain why the Glasgow soccer team
called Celtic also pronounce their name that way. These are the only two examples I know of, and both are sports teams. I assume this is not a coincidence. Celtic are Glasgow's Catholic team (the Protestant one is called Rangers) which may also possibly be germane here.

#51 ::: Vassilissa ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2004, 07:03 AM:

BSD: What is bookspace?

#52 ::: Mark Wise ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2004, 08:40 AM:

Vassilissa ---

Bookspace is the mysterious parallel dimension that one enters between the end of one sentence and the start of the next. Plot happens there.

#53 ::: rea ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2004, 08:42 AM:

Does anyone know why it is the Boston Seltics and not the Boston Keltics?

For the same reason we say Seesar rather than Kaiser--Anglophones seem to have trouble figuring these things out . . .

#54 ::: Andy Perrin ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2004, 09:11 AM:


As a former Bostonian (ok, Newtonville-onian) I like your theory.

Mark said:

Bookspace is the mysterious parallel dimension that one enters between the end of one sentence and the start of the next. Plot happens there.


#55 ::: BSD ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2004, 09:16 AM:

Vassilissa: at the moment? Any flat surface I don't need for walking, sleeping, or eating.

#56 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2004, 09:30 AM:

Which doesn't explain why the Glasgow soccer team called Celtic also pronounce their name that way.

I suspect this is a clever blow struck by the Scots against their ancient foe, the Scots.

#57 ::: Edward Liu ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2004, 09:36 AM:


John M. Ford writes: "Is anyone still not clear on why I don't work in Hollywood?"

Yes. Clearly, you have far too much cleverness and imagination for them.

I think that's one of the funniest pitches I've heard in a long time, and if I had a million dollars to fund it, I'd at least want to see a treatment.

-- Ed

#58 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2004, 09:37 AM:

Oh, sorry. The short visit (under a minute) was me. Suddenly remembered I'm at work.


#59 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2004, 10:01 AM:

Well, at least they aren't the Peltics....

#60 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2004, 10:02 AM:

What a slew of Rikki Tikki Tavi buttons would cost depends greatly on the size of the slew--I do steep volume discounts and the prices are at

I'll be offering the button at Balticon--I think it's of general interest. Is there any reason not to put an exclamation point after "Run and find out"? That would make it nicely parallel to "Ooooh, SHINY!"

#61 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2004, 11:27 AM:

Given the episode of Futurama where Zap Brannigan launches the preemptive strike on The Neutral Planet as part of what he calls "the eternal battle between Good and Neutral" --

is there a battle raging, offstage, between Bookspace and Cyberspace?

I wonder what Lisa Spangen, of Digital Medievalist, thinks about the Medieval pages (one per century) at:


as to the information on people, Celtic History, dates, battles, and important books each year within each century?

Should there be reciprocal links?

#62 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2004, 11:29 AM:

Well, the motto of the librarian family is "Look it up" (which may make us a sedentary branch of the mongoose family, since it entails less running), so I looked in both the American Heritage and Merriam-Webster online dictionaries. Neither said why. In fact both allowed both "kelt" and "selt" as pronunciations for all words beginning with "celt-", but with the K pronunciation listed first.

With one exception.

Both list a homophone, lower-case "celt" with only the "selt" pronunciation. It's "a prehistoric stone or metal implement shaped like a chisel or ax head" and the name comes from "Late Latin celtis chisel."

This got me to thinking that most "ce-" words in English sound like "se", a common example being "cent," which sounds like "sent" rather than "kent". So the average person seeing the word "Celt" and not being educated enough to know the derivation from Greek, etc., would think "OK, that's soft c -- 'selt'."

#63 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2004, 12:10 PM:

MKK: speaking of things Celtic, it was very cool of you to use the word 'slew' in this's borrowed from Irish slua, 'host' (as in "a multitude of the heavenly host," not as in communion or guesting or parasites -- that's a total of TWO actual different meaning for English 'host' IMO).

JvP, I agree with Andy; it was likely an amused, slightly exasperated crack (from Irish craic, 'fun, enjoyment').

Lisa, sorry about that. I didn't know you were dyslexic and missed the joke.

Lois: in fact, there's a morphon (morphophoneme) in English that alternates 'k' and 's' depending on the following phoneme, and is pretty consistently spelled with the letter 'c'. Compare pronunciation of 'electric' and 'electricity', or, more germanely, "JvP is admittedly egocentric" and "JvP's egocentricity amuses Teresa." I personally love to nominalize words ending in '-ic' and pronounce them with 's': "I've been frantic, but my franticity (!) came to an end when you walked in the door."

This is also why I'm opposed to so-called "spelling reform" for English. 'Elektrik' and 'elektrisitee' (or whatever) don't strike me as improvements.

#64 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2004, 12:30 PM:

A "run and find out" button sounds like something on a search engine interface.

#65 ::: Jonathan Egocentric Post ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2004, 12:34 PM:


Franticalaity? Franticalness? Supercalifragilisticextrafrantalidocious?

"The Agony of the Long Distance Run-and-findouter?"

or "runner-and-find-out?"

#66 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2004, 12:39 PM:

Your Jonathanity of Postness: nah to that last. If you hyphenate, the ending goes only one place. We are runners, we are find-outers, we are run-and-find-outers. Not runner-and-find-outers, certainly: if you want to discontinuize the '-er' form, you'd have to say "runner-and-finder-outer," wouldn't you? :-)

#67 ::: Jonathanity Of Postness ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2004, 12:44 PM:


you have convinced me. And sorry about my misaddressing you as "Xaopher."

I'm going tomorrow to the wedding of a friend's daughter with a founder of Brave New World, Inc., where I used to work. His new company is called "Xao, Inc," and he was startled to learn from a cousin of mine that "Xao" has a Chinese meaning along the lines of "delicate detailed work" which is just right for a software firm. "It was the last 3-letter URL available," said the founder.

#68 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2004, 01:36 PM:

No problem, figured it was a typo. I was riffing on our discussion of nominalizing suffixes, not responding to your misspelling.

Is there a Chinese word 'fer' in any tone that means anything cool? Because I do delicate detailed work...But of course the first syllable of my name is pronounced 'zo', so it's all for naught.

#69 ::: Jonathan Su Tungpo Post ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2004, 01:45 PM:


although I have published transliterations of Sung Dynasty Chinese Poetry, and corresponded with Allen Ginsberg about same, I definitely do NOT know Chinese.

Searles' Question: If a room full of people with Chinese/English and English/Chinese dictionaries responds to queries, does the room full of people (none of whom actually speak Chinese) de facto speak or understand Chinese?

Post's Conjecture: And if the people are monkeys, can they spontaneously type "Hamlet, Prince of Peking"?

#70 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2004, 01:57 PM:

Xopher: I knew that of course, Cough cough.

Anybody wanna buy a bridge?


#71 ::: Ms. Molly ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2004, 02:31 PM:

re: Boston Celtics

They don't have anything to say about the pronunciation issue themselves, but at least they didn't end up as the Boston Unicorns.

#72 ::: Jonathan ex-Massachusetts Post ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2004, 02:38 PM:

"What bugs me is when people refer to the celts as the 'selts', influenced by the Boston Celtics ('seltics')basketball team. Oh, and why is the University of Notre Dame pronounced how it looks ('Noter Daym') instead of the way you'd say it if you were talking about the cathedral in France?
-- nathandrea, Jul 20 2001"


Halfbakery: Teach Foreign Pronunciation Rules

#73 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2004, 02:50 PM:

My dad always calls it Votre Dame.

#74 ::: language hat ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2004, 03:18 PM:

I'm just glad Lisa returned from the Land of Hiatus. I missed her.

--A Guy Who Studied Old Irish in Another Life

#75 ::: teep ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2004, 03:29 PM:

I live in Pennsylvania. If I'm talking about the place in France, Versailles is pronounced "Ver-sigh" but if I'm talking about the town outside of Pittsburgh, I say "Versales". If I'm talking about a french surname, DuBois is said "Du-bwa" but if I'm talking about the town near Altoona, I say "Du-Boys". If I'm talking about the hunchback-of, it's pronounced "Notra-Dahm" but if the subject is college football, I say "Noter-Daym".

Oddly, Pennsylvanians seem to be able to do just fine with Duquesne (pronounced Du-kayne) even though the examples I just gave strongly suggest we'd say "Du-kwesne" or something similar instead of having a go with the foreign pronunciation.

This sort of foolishness must make learning English utter hell.

#76 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2004, 03:49 PM:

And then there's the weatherman on NBC's Phoenix station (last name McLaughlin) who pronounces his first name Sean as though it rhymed with "bean". Go figure!

#77 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2004, 04:09 PM:

Then there's Newark, NJ (pronounced /nwrk/), Newark, DE (pronounced New Ark), and Newark, OH (pronounced, I'm told by usually-reliable sources, as /nrkahay'/ (Ner KahHAI)).

#78 ::: Lisa ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2004, 05:10 PM:

I should probably rewrite the Kelt/Selt FAQ to be less discursive. Just as soon as I finish beating my footnotes into submission, I'll take a poke at the FAQ.

I suspect, looking at the data in various dictionaries and the dialect maps I have at hand, that the "Why the Boston Seltics" issue relates to the fact that the academic study of things Celtic grew out of the work of early Germanic scholars, who prefer their Kelts to be Kelts from Greek Keltoi. The rest of the English speaking world, used to the soft "Latin" C (century, cent, etc.) went with Seltic. The French speaking French Celticists I know use Kelt in English, and Selt in French (admittedly, this is only three scholars.)

I suspect further that New Englanders would have associated Kelt with academic pretension (admittedly, I base this on personal anecdotal evidence) and would (and do, frequently) steadfastly adhere to Selt for teams and linguistic groups. I suspect that Glaswegian sports fans might have similar issues, and a desire to avoid things German.

I note that UCLA undergraduates almost universally use Seltic for sports teams and for Celtic studies, and that it is only after acculturation that they begin to distinguish the two. K versus S is one of the most frequent search engine phrases I see.

#79 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2004, 05:38 PM:

The soft C in Latin is later, church usage (or at least so my classicist teacher in high school insisted). So real Latinists would use the K sound anyway....

#80 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2004, 05:55 PM:

Faren -- Does Sean "You Cash in Your Chips Around Page 88" Bean know about this? Should he?

#81 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2004, 06:31 PM:

If it were pronounced any other way, it wouldn't rhyme with the second line of the Fight Song:

"Wake up the echoes cheering her name!"

W. Skeffington Higgins
Class of '76
Son of Thomas M. Higgins, Class of '48
Stepson of Charles Trotter, also Class of '48

#82 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2004, 07:00 PM:

Saluer á vieux Notre Dame,
Réveiller les échoes, acclamant son nom . . .

"Quasimodo's got the ball and he's going for daylight! He's on the thirty, the twenty! He's pausing to stab the corrupt priest, which ought to mean fifteen yards and a turnover, but the deep humanity of the runninghunchback seems to have moved the ref to an ethereal stillness! What a run!"

Now, what's the Latin for "Parseghian?"

#83 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2004, 08:05 PM:

I come from NH, where the town name Berlin and the county Coos are pronounced BER-lin and Coh-ahs. We take the names and make up the pronunciations just to make sure the colonialists aren't coming back...

Xopher: I got into the habit of using the French suffix "-ment" to adverbialize English words in prep school (yep - make all the expected jokes re: that's the kind of place you learn to do that sort of thing). So, unfortunatement I sound really pretentious sometimes without even trying. Dommage.

#84 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2004, 10:06 PM:

Dan Devine?

#85 ::: Sara ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2004, 12:03 AM:

Now how about this: Gruene, Tx, which is pronounced "Green."

Just throwing that into the mix about how the Boston Celtics have the S sound and not the hard K sound.

#86 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2004, 03:58 AM:

I always liked Richard Burton's response to someone who referred to him as a soft 'c' Celt:

"If I'm a Selt, then you're a sunt!"

#87 ::: Yoon Ha Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2004, 11:44 AM:

I thought I had a pretty darn decent command of English. (The only language of which that is true, sadly.) Then we moved to Boston for a year. And ohmygod how on earth was I supposed to intuit how people said Faneuil (I've had just enough French to be dangerous), or all the other places that I'm blanking on where they seem to drop out random parts of the spelling?

Sort of like going around for the longest time thinking Thames rhymed with James. Unless James isn't pronounced how I thought it was, in UKland, either.

Maybe I should just go back to where all the famn durriners from come. :-)

#88 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2004, 12:38 PM:

Celtics, Keltics, Move that Ball!
by Jonathan Vos Post

In Massachusetts I had dwelt
And at my neighbors often felt
That there was something wrongly spelt
Or wrongly spoke: a soft 'c' “Celt.”

I’d chug some beer (for alcohol)
And watch a little Basketball
Then violate the protocol
By getting in a language brawl
Right there in the banquet hall.

Why do you call them “Seltics” when
everyone, even Englishmen,
knows Gaelic tribes of hill and glen
are “Keltic” – every citizen?

Glaswegian Catholics surely call
their team the “Seltics” in Football,
(or Soccer, in the USA)
and they live north of Hadrian’s Wall,
swig ‘Iron Brew’ in urban sprawl,
so what can I do, phone Interpol?

In Cornwall live Brythonic folk
and Wales; beneath the British Oak
Goidelic people all have spoke
(Highlands of Western Scotland, and
Ireland plus the Isle of Man)
of Keltic heritage, no joke,
and Brittany too, you bloody bloke.

Once Richard Burton took affront
When called a soft 'c' Celt upfront
And then put down the stupid runt
With words both clever and quite blunt:
"If I'm a Selt, then you're a sunt!"

1 May 2004

Copyright © 2004 by Magic Dragon Multimedia

#89 ::: Yoon Ha Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2004, 01:11 PM:

*has a good long snicker*

Uh...go maire tu i bhfad agus rath?

#90 ::: Mris ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2004, 02:03 PM:

It's not just Boston and Pennsylvania, of course. In Nebraska, they have Beatrice (bee-AT-russ), Kearney (KAR-nee), and Norfolk (nor-fork). My parents, who were trying to raise a Minnesotan child in Nebraska*, got very upset when I made reference to Norfolk as if it had two r's in it. But nor-follllllk and nor-fk are different places than ours. Ours is nor-fork. Norfolk, NE, was originally supposed to be Norfork, I'm told, but when they went to register it, whoever registers that sort of thing said, "Oh, silly hicks, they've gone and misspelled Norfolk!" And Nebraskans are stubborn. I have no idea how anyone could intuit the proper pronunciation; better to move to Wahoo if you have doubts.

*It more or less worked.

#91 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2004, 03:23 PM:

A person of the Scottish persuasion emailed me to say, of the soft-drink brand:

"Its Irn Bru."

That's right. I forgot... and wrote the name in English!

Looks like rusty water, is the point. Really good for washing down the deep-fried haggis (a Glasgow specialty). Now, why do they have so many heart attacks there, remind me...

Don't forget to see the Burell (spelling guess) Art Museum when you go to the next Glasgow Worldcon!

#92 ::: HP ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2004, 03:36 PM:

There's a small town in north-central Indiana near where I grew up called Russiaville. Except it's pronounced "Rooshaville." This prompted decades of ridicule from folks in Kokomo and Greentown, until a local historian did some research. Seems that Russiaville is named for a French/Miami creole named Jean Baptiste Richardville. The pronunciation is roughly correct; it's the spelling that's all wrong.

There are lots of examples of French spellings with anglicized pronunciations; I don't know of many where the French pronunciation is kept and the spelling is changed. (Although I always suspected that Point Isabel in nearby Grant county might have something to do with Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, seeing as how Point Isabel is hundreds of miles from any geography that could reasonably be described as a "point.")

#93 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2004, 03:39 PM:

You mean Kearney isn't pronounced like Carny? My mother (of an old SF Bay Area family) always insisted that was the proper pronunciation. Those who thought otherwise were illiterate outlanders...

But then, she insisted on pronouncing Sutter in the Dutch manner (Sooter) as well, since he'd been Dutch.

#94 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2004, 03:48 PM:

A mathematician would happily refer to anyplace with a Latitude and a Longitude as "a point."

But we are in the centennial of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, not the Legendre and Coordinate Centennial, nor the Jerry Lewis and Arthur C. Clarke Centennial (I'd watch that telethon!)...

Or is a point or a place the same as "Laplace?"

Them Rooshians lost the Cold War, and now they have to ferry our astronauts up and down while the Shuttle Program rests with its limbs in casts...

Your Indiana History is fascinating!

#95 ::: HP ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2004, 04:05 PM:


Russiaville was in the national news some years ago (mid-1980s), as it was the home of Ryan White, the boy who was expelled from school because he contracted AIDS from hemophilia medication. Of course, the national news was generally datelined "Kokomo," which gave the Kokomoans fits: "It's not like he's from Kokomo--that boy lives clear in Russiaville! That's Western School District! We're not like that here!" Russiaville being at least three whole miles from Kokomo, the culture was entirely different, you see.

Kokomo is a much better place to be from than to be in.

Point Isabel consists of an abandoned feed store, a Baptist church, and a couple of double-wides at the intersection of route 13 and highway 26. You'd be lucky to find someone to do basic cypherin', let alone mathemetics.

#96 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2004, 05:04 PM:

When I did Software audits for Rockwell and NASA on the Space Shuttle, I used a software package called COCOMO which does cost and schedule estimation. I always wondered if it was developed by someone from Kokomo. And what's the deal on that Beach Boys song?

I guess I do recall the Ryan White story.

Isabel rings in the forest and nobody is there to hear it, does it make a sound?

Do they tell that philosophical joke about "To Be is to Do; to Do is to Be; Do be do be do" at Purdue?

#97 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2004, 05:28 PM:

re the misprint "Xaopher" for Xopher:

Is a xaopher a source of chaos?

#98 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2004, 05:45 PM:

Erik Nelson:

that's a truly Joycean pun on the Greek word for Chaos, written sort of like XAOS! Nice!

And how does that relate tho the evil syndicate in "Get Smart"? Ummmm or was it "The Man from Uncle"?

#99 ::: Bill Blum ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2004, 10:28 PM:


I'm originally from Indiana--- started out convinced that I wanted to be a nuclear engineering major at Purdue... but left after two years, when I realized spending all my time in the model railroad club wasn't helping me do things like focus on classwork.

Purdue is home to the Theta Tau Rube Goldberg Machine Contest, an event well worth a visit if your in the area at the time...

I could think of enough interesting things about Purdue to go on for hours, but I'll just leave it at: anyone with a kid interested in science/engineering could do worse than have their kid look at Purdue as a college option.

#100 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2004, 11:45 PM:

Mris, the Norfolk in Virginia is pronounced "NAW fuk."

HP, we had the same problem in Manassas with the Bobbitt and Mohamed trials -- newspeople kept saying the incidents happened in the city when they happened in the county around us. The courthouse is here, but that doesn't mean all the crimes happen here.

#101 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2004, 12:19 AM:

Bill Blum writes:

Purdue is home to the Theta Tau Rube Goldberg Machine Contest, an event well worth a visit if your in the area at the time...

In fact, I have done this. Visited friends on the campus on Rube Goldberg weekend. That year, the challenge was to build a machine that would toast two slices of bread, in the most complicated manner achievable.

Several campus clubs and fraternities had assembled toys, household objects, solenoids, strings, rubber bands, and what-have-you into glorious, ridiculous celebrations of unnecessary complexity.

Not surprisingly, reliability was a problem. I don't think any of the machines worked on their first attempt. The rules allow a team to do a number of "resets" after a failure, replacing the bowling ball at the top of the ironing board, unspringing the mousetrap, etc., and they try another run.

I think it was 1991. More than one machine clobbered effigies of Saddam Hussein in the course of their operation.

I meant to write a fanzine article about this experience, but I guess I never did. Still have photos around somewhere. Definitely worth the trip down from Chicagoland.

#102 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2004, 04:42 AM:

Erik: The Man from UNCLE (United Network Command for Law and Enforcement) battled THRUSH (Technological Hierarchy for the Removal of Undesirables and Subjugation of Humanity) - no fungus jokes please - whereas Maxwell Smart & his fellow Agents in Get Smart were fighting against KAOS with Control (ahem).

I think the "Received Pronounciation" of Norfolk in the UK ('very flat, Norfolk') is also NAW-fk.

We have inherited a bunch of treacherous English names, like Beauchamp (Beech-um) as well as having Aboriginal place-names (in NSW, Coogee is Koodj-ee, in WA it's Koo-Ghee; should I mention Cullen Bullen? Better not.). In some cases we've changed the English version. There's a well-known theatre called Belvoir Street (Bell-vwah), but I've been told it should be said 'beaver'.

The thing that does irritate is that mostly the British names meant something. Wallsend was at the end of the Roman wall against Scotland, Lindfield was where linen was spread to bleach, etc, etc, etc. But colonists often named places because they thought they looked similar, or just for a familiar name like Perth or Como, so there's not a lot of meaning, just perhaps some family history. There are some good ones, like Manly or Ultimo, Mount Warning and Twofold Bay, though.

#103 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2004, 04:59 AM:

Oh, and also, Xopher: there's a popular Vietnamese hot noodle soup usually spelt pho but pronounced fer. Unsure if it also means 'strengthening' or suchlike.

A steaming bowl would be good right now. There's been a definite chill in the air this sunny Mayday weekend, coinciding with a computer glitch that stopped 80% of Sydney's trains (the historic ride 19th century steam engines ran fine) and my mother's 91st birthday!

Mmm. Hot soup to go with the orange semolina & blueberry cake, which I'm planning to warm before serving. (Dons fluffy slippers, heads for kitchen.)

#104 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2004, 10:51 AM:

Paula: Peeps jousting doesn't get the microwave all sticky if you remember not to go a whole minute's worth of cooking time. A person's got to stop the bout after a valid hit; that's the trick of it.

See also information at for more colorful sticky language.

Epacris: Chaos soup. Yum.

JMF: *smooch*

#105 ::: Mris ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2004, 12:38 PM:

You mean Kearney isn't pronounced like Carny?

Sure, Tom: I pronounce Carny KAR-nee, not SAR-nee or kar-NEE or kar-NYIH or anything else I can think of. I'm not sure what difference you were seeing there. Kearney, Carny, KAR-nee. Like most motor vehicles plus the joint in the middle of your leg. (No, not autohip, all you smartasses, nor SUVankle.)

My high school speech/debate coach was from NY and clung tenaciously to his accent despite being able to adopt most Midwestern varieties at will. Sometimes he would shout, "Mary marry merry!" at us over and over again in hopes that we would begin to hear the differences in those vowels. Decibels did not help. Ocasionally he started shouting things that sounded a good bit like "Mary Murray meeery!" in disgust. Occasionally other things that are much more traditionally shouted in disgust.

#106 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2004, 01:52 PM:

Is a xaopher a source of chaos?

Hmm. Well, Xopher certainly is, if I may say so...I personally would think a xaopher would be a very complicated letter-substitution encryption based on chaos mathematics.

Tom: As far as I know 'c' doesn't spell /s/ even in well-spoken Church Latin. As you know, in Classical Latin it always spells /k/, no matter what's before or after it. A historical sound change from /k/ to /č/ is very common worldwide, especially before a front vowel, and such a change happened to Late Latin. In English many of these words are pronounced with /s/, of course, but not in Church Latin AFAIK.

#107 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2004, 01:55 PM:

Re Kearney/Carney

My family name is not the usual version of the phoneme set (which means, I am told, I can be certain of some relation to anyone who so spells it).

Many moons ago there was a Nancy Kearney in my unit. The CO of said unit had no problem properly pronouncing her name, but mine (Karney) came out of his mouth as, Keer-nee.

It is not uncommon for her spelling to get that mispronuncitation.

Re pho: Out here all the Vietnamese people I know pronounce it fha.


#108 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2004, 03:25 PM:

Commonest pronunciation in SF is KERR-nee, with occasional folks pronouncing it KERN-ee (one who is kerned?), a subtle difference to be sure.

#109 ::: language hat ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2004, 02:12 PM:

"If I'm a Selt, then you're a sunt!"

From here:
Allan Ramsay's censored edition of the sixteenth century poem A Bytand Ballat On Warlo Wives inexplicably substituted "Sunt" for 'cunt': "Sunt Lairds and Cuckolds altogither" (1724). Ramsay added a mistakenly self-congratulatory footnote: "Sunt [...] is spelled [here] with an S, as it ought, and not with a C, as many of the English do."

Some good discussion of place-name pronunciation at LH threads here and here.

#110 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2004, 08:41 PM:

HvP: Actually, I've always been secretly irked, ever since a child, when someone referred to a "vacuum cleaner" [Hoover] as a "vacuum", and that transferred more recently to those who call a "microwave oven" a "microwave." Secondarily, I object to people saying "nuked" when they meant "heated in a mcrowave over." After all, it's not the nuclei they are perturbing, but the electrons...

But, but, ... truncation is a well established and respectable feature of the English language; consider mob, bus, and semi. And I'm a quarter century from the lab bench but I would have sworn that microwaves did agitate nuclei, not internally but with relation to each other. (Which I suppose also involves perturbing the motions of the electrons, but it's the entire assemblage that morphs, not just electrons jumping orbitals.)

On the other hand, people have expressed exasperation when I refer to a diskette as a "floppy disk." They say "there's nothing floppy about it" and tap it on a table top. No sense of history...

Or too much? I call those "stiffies", because I worked for too many years with real floppies --including, in our last use of dying technology (8" disks holding 24 12K files, with all the page formatting done by hand), typesetting the anthology of SFWA Life Masters that Tor published. IIRC, that was how I actually \met/ Teresa after some LoCs.

Sara: Now how about this: Gruene, Tx, which is pronounced "Green."

Less illogical than you might think; there are Germans scattered around TX (cf the sausage makers in Neu Braunfels), so the name was probably Grüne; typesetters without umlauts render this as Gruene, but the usual description of the vowel is "shape your mouth for oo-as-in-moon and try to say eee through it", so it might sound like "green" to people not used to the vowel.

#111 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2004, 08:46 PM:

And answering the original question: I don't aspire to eccentricity (let alone "We are the people our parents warned us about"), but "eclectic" is a good collective. (I'm surprised nobody's mentioned SF; I take it not everyone here reads heavily in the genre, but it's obvious reason to know TNH.)

When pho was becoming popular in this area, restaurant reviewers said it should be pronounced "fuh"; if memory doesn't fail, I'll ask our neighbors the next time they need to borrow our heavy shears (they have a rosebush in need of discipline).

#112 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2004, 10:14 PM:

CHip: <ahem> should I assume that, in your culture, "stiffie" is not a slang term for a certain physical ... er ... reaction(?) seen in males? <blush> or is that part of the joke?

(I'm currently refusing to make a remark about a news story just heard on the radio saying "a fault in Windows' back door is allowing a dangerous worm in". Refusing, do you hear!)

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