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The thing is, is that some of the most dreadful are not so much phrases as syntactical constructions.
My wife once saw a sign in a store that had both "everyday" and "every day", and both were used correctly. She was surprised and very pleased.
Thanks, abi! This is one of the amusements that never palls.
I didn't see this one on the previous list:
He put her on a peddle stool
A did see "Don't want someone who will put me on a pedal stool" in a dating profile once. Pretty sure she was in no danger of that from me.
I've seen "towing the party line". "Towing the company line" appears in the previous thread, but for some reason, I think "towing the party line" is different and funnier.
Are we allowed poor-quality translingual puns?
<Mrs. Wombat, (pointing at two whole fresh eggs in a bowl)>Can you fry me an egg for breakfast?
<Me (pointing at the bowl with two whole fresh eggs)>But that's not un oeuf! You'll be hungry!
Rando on Twitter: Jesus just waves his hand and your toast.
Me: Why would Jesus want to wave my toast?
Nancy Lebovitz @6: Towing the party line is how you pull the party barge, presumably.
A piece I was editing the other week had a police officer “upholstering his gun”. I guess it makes the handgrip nice and comfy on cold nights?
I am now reminded of what I think is a David Langford line, about reading the novel title The Tower of the King's Daughter and picturing a burly official hauling with some difficulty on a silken rope.
A friend just discovered this isn't the phrase, and she is broken.
I've always loved butt naked, which actually makes more sense than buck naked.
#9 ::: James E
Thanks for the link. The Silver Jews do good silly stuff.
The publishing company I used to work with like to tell their customers they would treat them with "kit gloves". And get pissed when I would be given something to review and correct it.
Then again, I had to explain that 'flushing out' in the way they were talking about it was actually 'fleshing out' something.
Supposedly people who worked with language too.
Whoops, advertising executives. Never mind.
I'll try not to spam this thread, but I found this one today as well:
people are acting as though this is his first radio
I have actually seen, "toad away," applied to cars.
I have actually seen, "toad away," applied to cars.
I'm afraid I've been reading too much Ursula Vernon. I am now picturing a truly massive toad (yellow-green with lots of bumps) hopping up to a badly-parked car, ensnaring it with a twenty-foot sticky tongue that wraps all the way around it, pulling it into its mouth and hopping off to the impound lot.
rea @16, I guess that's accurate, if you're in The Wind in the Willows.
We have a bumper sticker that says, "Do not tailgate the Wizard - violators will be Toad", but that's deliberate.
abi @17 I have a comic clipped out of the paper long ago. There is a placid amphibian the size of the car sitting on the back of a little hatchback. One character is saying to another, "Looks like you need one of those rear window defroggers."
That accessory has been a defrogger in our household ever since.
abi@17: I'm afraid I've been reading too much Ursula Vernon.
Can you explain this concept, please?
OtterB (20): It may become a 'defrogger' in my household as well. Thanks for that.
I once worked with someone who always said "physical year" for "fiscal year" and it exasperated me no end. He would spell it correctly in emails. He just could never say it.
Steve C., #23: Reminds me of a former cow-orker who (1) was a sloppy speaker and (2) spelled things the way she pronounced them (e.g. she pronounced the word "skeleton" like the last name of the comedian and spelled it the same way).* This became a problem when she was writing text that would appear in the material we sent out to clients! At least the text for the actual product went by me and I could proofread it, but I shudder to think about the cover letters she sent.
* I should mention here that when I was in elementary school, I thought for years that his name was Red Skeleton. But by the time I was out of high school I knew better!
Where do you go when...
My current bugaboo is a subject being "cut and dry".
I just want to point out that, when this comment thread started, I had not yet finished my first year in grad school at Iowa, had no idea I was moving to L.A., and had four-and-a-half full productions of full-length plays, two web series, and 5+ drafts of a novel to come...and no idea of the mistakes I'd make therein.
Do better, past me! Get smarter! Enjoy the fun! Have more fun!
I cannot stand 'to no end' being used for 'no end'.
dotless ı @21: Ursula Vernon (who sometimes writes as T. Kingfisher) writes amazing screwball magical realism, often comic, and likely to involve wildlife. Also she had a long-running webcomic for a while, and draws amazing things.
Elliott Mason (29): I thought dotless ı was making a joke about about the impossibility of there ever being too much Ursula Vernon.
Stirring the ambers of the fire.
James E #9: I can imagine a slightly different universe in which a gun secured in a holster is “holstered up”.
Kevin @ 32-
Ahh--so that explains the old Mae West line, "is that a separable prefix or are you just glad to see me?"
Me 8: A friend on FB responded "Because he has a rye sense of humor."
Just seen: 'guilding the lily'
Well, if it needs that kind of help....
Kevin Reid @32: hah! Yes. It's definitely not this universe, though, because having upholstered his gun he proceeded to file several shots with it. Quick on the drawer, clearly.
Abi @17: I think Ursula would be at least as likely to show the car being hauled away by a large flock of small birds, i.e., pigeon towed.
And in a related vein, my brain has lately been trying to interpret "nematode" as "NEMA toad" -- an amphibian that is in compliance with electrical wiring standards.
This is not a true dreadful, but *I* dread it:
"But he also wanted to give himself every chance at success. He may have killed 206 people but he gained no benefit of experience from that."
(Quote is from _Zero World_ by Jason M. Hough because that's where I happened to notice it recently and remember the location.)
To my ear, the word "may" there is wrong wrong wrong. It needs to be "might". Clearly this is not the accepted English rule, because lots of people use "may" this way. I can't even articulate what rule I think it's breaking. But I am sure it's wrong. Every time I run into this, it grates.
It has the feel of a tense mismatch. "Might have" implies that the narrator did not know at that point in the story. "May have" implies that the *author* does not know *now*. Really I want to use the past tense of "may", but that doesn't even make sense, of course.
Does anybody else have this problem/
I've seen library drop boxes painted as toads. There has to be something for them.
You pick up that one also!
Yes, it should be 'might' - it's tense, and sometimes also mood.
Can't resist linking to Toad Words.
Is that akin to a vindshield viper?
Mary Aileen@30: Yes, thanks, that's what I meant. Elliott Mason@29, sorry I was unclear. I agree entirely with "amazing".
Incidentally, "toad" is the correct jargon for a small vehicle towed behind an RV.
I share your instincts about "may" in this sentence. But I think "might" would have other problems, just as severe.
"He might have killed 206 people..." sounds as though it should be completed by, e.g. "if he had pressed the wrong button." It sounds like the consequent of a contrary-to-fact conditional.
"Might" does both of these jobs, as PJE notes. You'd like it to be a pure tense-marker in this context, but it does not stop sounding like a mood-marker. People are going to hear both, and be bothered by the mismatch with one or the other.
I would probably revise to shift the tense-marker to a different verb, e.g. "He thought to himself, "I may have killed 206 people, but I gained...."
With the tense-marking done by "thought", "may" is clearly the right verb, not "might."
I've just come from the comments section of . . . another blog, with a certain overlap in commenters with this one, where a front-pager's characterization of the NFL Commissioner as a "slavering authoritarian" gets denounced in comments: "Comparing a four game suspension of Tom Brady to 'slavery' is . . . asinine." Oh, well . . .
Andrew Plotkin (39): I think 'may' is right in that instance, although I can't articulate a rule. Take what I wrote about my very annoying upstairs neighbors last year:
"My neighbors may be annoying, but they have their uses."
That's not saying that they might (or might not) be annoying, it's conceding that they are* and contrasting that with their having other uses. 'Might' would definitely have been the wrong word to express my meaning. As I said, I can't articulate why; call it native speaker intuition.
*or were; they've since moved out
I'm fond of "Oldtimer's" (for "Alzheimer's").
abi @ 17:
What is this "too much Ursula Vernon" you speak of?
P J Evans @ 35
To what guild does the lily belong, and is there an initiation ritual? I once saw the phase "guilting the lily," which does have some amusement value, but I don't think the poster meant it that way.
Jewish friends have also used the phrase "Hanukkah Guilt" rather than "Hanukkah Gelt," but I think that was deliberate.
I'm pretty sure that if you rips its stamen out, then you are gelding the lily.
(Which explains the old Mae West line, "is that a pistil in your pocket, or are you just gladioli?")
(Of course, "guilting refined gold" would be a hair less wrong, but just barely.)
I think "may" is a special case of a subjunctive modal form in the forms you're considering. These are tricky forms.
Normally one thinks of hypotheticals as counter-factual; however, in these cases what's being proposed is a *factual* hypothetical case and I have a gut sense that in this case "may" is more correct than "might".
Compare the following constructions:
"I may have a good job, but it is still important that I manage my money carefully."
"I might have a billion dollars, but it would still be important that I manage my money carefully."
Both assert that the second clause is true *even* if the first clauses is true, but the former implies that I do have a good job (without specifically affirming it) while the second implies that I do not have a billion dollars (again, without absolutely disclaiming it.)
For me, the force of the "would be" in the second of your examples strongly suggests that the speaker does not have a billion dollars.
"I might have a good job, but it is still important that I manage my money carefully."
"I may have a good job, but it is still important that I manage my money carefully."
Neither one of those screams "wrong" to me, and they both suggest the speaker does have a good job. It may be that one of these forms is in fact formally incorrect, but it's not "wrong enough" to nag at me.
I appreciate the continued discussion on may/might! It's one of those things I picked up without being formally taught. Which means, as I noted, that I could have picked up a usage that is uncommon or wrong.
"I might have a good job, but it is still important that I manage my money carefully."
"I may have a good job, but it is still important that I manage my money carefully."
...have different implications to me. The second definitely has a good job; it's an idiom questioning causality. The first is a counterfactual, but perhaps the speaker has a good job anyway and is excluding it from the domain of discourse for the sake of argument!
(Yes, that latter is a lot of complexity to lay on one verb!)
But in third-person-past-tense it's all different again:
"He might have a good job, but it was still important that he managed his money carefully."
"He may have a good job, but it was still important that he managed his money carefully."
The last case is the one that bothers me. I agree that the problem is that one degree of freedom (may/might) is trying to do two jobs, so there's probably no solution that will work for every reader.
(Side note: in my original quoted example, the protagonist is an assassin who has his memory wiped after every job. So he *really is* unsure how many people he's killed. But I run into this grammar thing in many other books.)
lorax (55): To me "I might have a good job, but..." expresses doubt about whether or not the job is actually good, whereas "I may have a good job, but..." does not. Neither is clearly right or wrong, but they mean subtly different things.
I think Clifton's explanation in #54 is correct.
Andrew Plotkin (56): Thank you for clarifying your complaint. I think you are correct that your second example ("He may have a good job, but it was still important that he managed his money carefully.") is wrong. I would change the verb tense: "He may have had* a good job..."
Does that work for you?
*emphasis to show my addition
I think when the dependent clause is past tense, the contrafactual sounds wrong if it isn't also in the past, for both 'may' and 'might'.
...may have had ...
...might have had ...
at least for this dependent clause. (Though, oddly, I'm not sure 'might' works with a past tense dependent regardless of its own tense. Possibly a dialectal thing? Or a spoken vs. written thing.)
emgrasso (59): You're right that both of those examples should be 'have had'.
'Might' works perfectly well with a past tense, though. "I might have gone to the same college as my brother, but I didn't."
"When a small submarine is trapped in a deep sea cravat..."
rea #47: Oy. I'm reminded of a flap a few years back when somebody got in trouble over "niggardly"... IIRC, they were addressing an audience of college students, too.
oldster @ 52
That's doubtless true, but one should also note that female flowers like a male with lots of stamena.
On a yard sign promoting a local church:
"Join Us Sunday's at 10:30"
...female flowers like a male with lots of stamena.
She hates it when I fire my pistil too soon!
Re: the may/might distinction, I think it's being used in sense 8 of the Oxford English Dictionary's definition "may"):
8. Used in one of a pair of coordinate clauses with concessive force (may be or do..but = ‘although..is’ or ‘does’).
1903 D. McLean Stud. Apostles iv. 58 You may force fruit, but you cannot force flavour.
1984 A. Smith Mind iii. xi. 180 The eye may be the visual organ, but it is the brain that sees.
But there's a paragraph in the entry for sense 7 addressing the may/might distinction as well (I'll leave the references to senses 7a, 18b, 26 etc. because that's a lot of ellipses otherwise; if anyone really wants to know what those entries say I can post them):
From the late Middle English period senses 7a and 7b contrasted with the use of might expressing both the past subjective possibility of a situation (sense 18a; originally in indirect statements) and the present subjective possibility of a past situation (sense 18b; this function was taken over by sense 7c). Subsequently there arose a use of might in virtually indistinguishable contexts, but having the possibility of greater tentativeness (sense 26).
P J Evans@35: 'guilding the lily'
There is a notion of a guild in ecology, and lilies could presumably be assigned to one or more, but I don't know enough about them to know what would make sense. (I first encountered that meaning of "guild" only a few months ago after looking up the wonderfully SF-sounding word "forb".)
I see "rational" frequently used, when what is actually meant is "rationale". Augghhh.
And I just saw "split of the moment idea here..." I'm not even sure what that's supposed to be.
David Harmon @69: Probably meant to be "spur of the moment".
Chris #70: Oh yeah. Thanks, that "split" just sent my associations off into the weeds.
There is at least one U.S. state that has a "Statement of One in the Same" form for establishing that two names refer to the same person. I wince whenever I have to mention it because, of course, that actually is the name of the form and it's hard to avoid calling it that.
The phrase itself isn't that bad, compared to the rest of this thread and its predecessor, but making it part of the title of an official document seems like a new low.
In the full context, it was clear they had gilt lilies.
('Forb' I'd met. guilds of lilies - that would, as a WAG, be Asiatic, oriental, species...?)
Somebody I read earlier today was referring to "sewing the seeds" of discord or whatever. Not sure what they were sewing them to.
the guilded lilies, maybe. Or the toad lines.
Curious that the word "forb" should arise here. It's used several times in Graydon's book A Succession of Bad Days, and it took me by surprise that there should be a short, simple word that in 47 years of ridely pretty widely I had never encountered.
(It may of course be that dotless ı came across the word in the same place I did.)
Not a phonetic near miss, but it still says something that the writer did not intend:
"I have worms and Swedish pimples!"
(seen on a sign outside a shop that sells fishing tackle).
Dude, TMI. Just talk to your doctor about it.
I ran across "He shuttered" in the wild. In a published book.
David Harmon @69/71 - possibly "split second" sneaking in around the back to turn the phrase into gibberish, there?
I'm just speculating. Off the cuff of my head, sort of thing.
Steve Wright @79 Off the cuff of my head (snort).
The French royal flag has gilded lilies.
P J Evans (75): toad lines
This morning I started wondering if a witch who turns people who don't tell her the truth into amphibians could be said to toad the lyin'.
David Goldfarb, #76:
"Ridely" is a short, simple word that, in 47 years of forbing pretty widely, I have never encountered.
David Goldfarb@76: I came across the word "forb" while researching a small child's question, "What do sheep eat?" The first answer I found was "grass, clover, and forbs", which led to the next question.
Quick browsing suggests that daylilies are classed as forbs; so I suppose that someone has already guilded the daylily.
I know "forb", though I don't know where I first encountered it; I almost always see it in the phrase "grasses and forbs"; AIUI it's a catchall term for non-woody plants other than grasses. So "clover and forbs" seems a little like saying "apples and fruits"; the implication is that the first is most common or most important, but there really should be an "other" in there.
In any case, "gilding the lily" is a misquotation to begin with. From Shakespeare's King John:
Therefore, to be possess'd with double pomp,
To guard a title that was rich before,
To gild refined gold, to paint the lily,
To throw a perfume on the violet,
To smooth the ice, or add another hue
Unto the rainbow, or with taper-light
To seek the beauteous eye of heaven to garnish,
Is wasteful and ridiculous excess.
Seen more than once in a traditionally published book (the first in a series, the second of which is overdue): 'mental anagram'. (Which sounds painful.)
And in a different book, traditionally published by a different company: 'crumbled' instead of 'crumpled'. Paper is crumbled, people crumble to the ground, etc. (This sounds even more painful.)
I was discussing editorial mis-steps with a friend and he told me in all seriousness that bad spelling could be due to anorexia.
sherwood Smith @12
I've been told somewhere that butt naked is preferable to buck naked, as one possible etymology for the latter is that it's in reference to the supposed "primitive state" of young Native American males or male African slaves, both of whom were referred to as "bucks".
Renee #87: What's wrong with doing anagrams in your head?
David Harmon #89: I like doing anagrams in my head (it's a fun game for a long drive -- Licence Plate Bingo!) But having a mental anagram done when an engram was intended ... not so much.
Renee #90: I see... indeed that sounds like it would scramble your memories.
Found this in, I swear to God, the official company style guide where I work:
"Calls to action are provided in standalone fashion beneath body copy followed by a carrot...
Learn More >"
Nice of them to show an example, wasn't it?
I thought calls to action were supposed to be *preceded* by a carrot and followed by a stick. Following something with a carrot just encourages it to turn around and bite the hand that feeds it.
Jordin: Well, it called ME to action, but I resisted in the name of, you know, keeping my job. It's good for a laugh, anyhow, and still not quite as bad as their current let's-go-troops slogan, "Journey to Great." (And again -- I'm not making this up; who could?)
That's not even a caret; it's a right-hand angle bracket.
Helen S. @95--Indeed: as a caret, it lacks.
It is too a caret, it's just sleeping. Or perhaps has had to much to drink.
I think it's pining for the fjords.
It's not pinin', it's passed on! IT IS AN EX-CARET!
^^^^^^ ^: Wow, he sure seems heavier dead.
Do I caret all about this? No. I'm just posting because I want to get bracket the rest of you.
And you know what Pope Gregory said about carets: they point toward heaven, so non angli sed angeli.
A speaker in a training session:
'Don't just brush it under the elephant that's always in the room.'
By the way, HelenS @100:, *snrk*
When a shipyard is done fixing a boat they want to try out the systems, usually the first few days at sea. I see all too often sea trails to describe that period.
Last month we moved to a different building, and from offices to open plan. Along with a floor map, there is now in circulation a directory of "cubical numbers."
Cath #104: So, the offices run 1, 8, 27, 64...? ;-)
Cath @ 104: Please tell me that they're numbered 1, 8, 27, 64....
Someone just answered a two-sentence, eight-word comment of mine on Facebook with "not sure what you mean by that little codex."
They meant coda, I am pretty sure. Or possibly codicil?
That depends: did you hand-write the sentences, and post a picture of them?
Tom: no, I did not. Nor did I bind them in a volume.
Someone in a fic I'm reading just got stabbed with a hyperbolic needle, which presumably hurt worse than anything has ever hurt before.
Did the bolus make them hyper?
David Harmon @105, john @106
Great minds! And alas, no.
Really, the homophone thing makes this too easy. Maybe they stand out more because autocorrect fixes the typos?
The latest, regarding offshoring call centre support: the owners want to "eek out a few more dollars here or there." I would be going "eek!" too, if my job were about to vanish.
Overheard on the bus home:
"...he was very nervous during the interview and kept covering his hands with his mouth."
Seen at Daily Kos, in today's midday roundup:
Hundreds of structures burned in three towns, with no end in site
"Not Angels, but Anglicans"?
Argh: context to #116: #100 HelenS.
@ 116: All excep Peason who hav a face like a baboon.
From a spam email about designing a website, and communicating to people:
"Did you know that 70% of website visitors leave a website because they do not find the website useful or relevant? i.e., despite reaching a company’s business presence on internet, they barely convert to customers."
Shouldn't that be "rarely" rather than "barely"? If you don't know the difference, why should I use your communication service?
I am, this week, plunged back into my regular task of grading student papers (a fact that constantly reminds me that in Iberian Spanish the word for 'duties' -- deberes -- also means 'chores'). A student wrote:
Although humans are all the same, we are very different.
Recently observed in email: "It's become too big for its breaches"
There's a series of TV ads running on MSNBC (for GE, I think) where they show two initially identical animated sketches of some object or scene (a windmill, a row of streetlights, the view out an airplane windshield) and then one sketch changes while the announcer explains that even though these two things look similar, the one on the right uses GE Intelligent Technology (tm, no doubt) so it works better (windmill spins, streetlights blink on and off to conserve energy, view through windshield shows plane flying).
The tag line at the end of the ad is always "Never have two things that are exactly the same been so very different."
And in other news, although it's not actually an error, the following unfortunately-phrased headline appeared on a cnn.com article today:
Kicked Syrian migrant offered football role in Madrid
Jordin #122: Ouch!
(This is a sentence fragment in the original): "Plain, white baseball hat, planted vicariously on his head and tilted to the side."
Just found rereading an old Electrolite thread: "I would have saved myself a lot of vein gesturing throughout this thread..."
M. Fragonard comes to mind.
During the Singapore Grand Prix:
Engineer to Lewis Hamilton (currently fourth): "Okay, Lewis, we are going to have to look after this tyre set - try to eek it out as long as we can."
Clearly there are mice involved in this.
As I wrap up marking papers for the weekend, this sentence stuck out:
The violence and rage of the people enticed riots, killed nobles and overall began a revolution in hope of an outcome favoring the majority.
I grant that the problem here is a simple spoonerism, but the image is, shall we say, alluring.
Fragano Ledgister @128, surely you mean it's enticing....? <grin>
Cadbury Moose: Was that a real-time subtitling? Because I cut them a lot of slack for simple homophones.
It's kind of an incite joke.
Terry Karney@130, alas variants on the phrase "eek out" show up often enough in what passes for print on the internet, sometimes including in electronic versions of actual newspapers, that I think it has to be ascribed to ignorance rather than just accident.
(That's not counting the times that pattern matchers find it as a part of "geek out", of course, but eek, it's enough to freek me out.)
Terry @ #130
No, it seemed to be a text running commentary on the race.
Could be a spell chequer error rather than a braino or typo.
ad homonym attacks
I've been known to refer to "argumentum ad nominem", to refer to the use of names (like "Billary", "John McShame", etc) as a way of sounding like you are making an argument without actually, you know, presenting any evidence related to the situation. Perhaps "ad homonym attacks" refers to some related fallacy?
Buddha Buck, #135: Context would probably provide a few clues. I remember using "the McCampaign" myself in 2008, but that was deliberately invoking the sense of words like "McJob" or "McMansion". I avoided "McPalin" on the grounds that it sounded like a fanfic ship descriptor!
I was enticed to something, but it was definitely an incite joke.
Fragano, although paper-grading is a trying time for you, I confess looking forward to the awful things you post.
P J Evans #134: A nicely self-referential error!
My apologies for agreeing with Carol Kimball@138.
And I saw somebody on the web today use the word "back-peddle". It was not a totally inaccurate word to use for the behaviour it was describing, even though it wasn't the one the writer meant.
From a neighborhood watch website, locally:
"We have been telling neighbors to get the U-shaped bike lock an key to better detour theives."
Maybe they should take a different route?
From my most recent batch of student papers, I have discovered that the Punic Wars led the Roman Empire begin its rise to empirical conquest, which makes me badly want a recording of the Empirical March. However, the Romans were a laughing-stalk on the sea.
"Can we conquer them?"
I am now reminded of a very badly OCR-ed book I tried to read about Hannibal, who was (apparently) a man of great diatinotion at the time of the Pfnic Wab.
Clearly a Pfnic Wab is one in which the loser gets pwned.
Very badly OCR-ed, indeed.
I have also seen "soft-pedaling"
Someone on Twitter just described Joe Biden as the one they wanted to see being a "loose canon" on the Sunday talk shows in 2017. Even if he started seminary now, I doubt he could rise that quickly through the ranks, even in the Episcopal Church.
Erik Nelson @ 146
What is wrong with that one - it is even in the dictionary? :)
Soft-pedaling is actually okay - think of the pedals on a piano.
"The restaurant was later helmed by [X] before the reigns were passed on to [Y]"
I am seeing a transfer of orb, sceptre, and maybe an archbishop or two ...
Seen this morning in two different places:
"Do to computer problems..."
"...but it was eluded to..."
Carrie S. @151: I am so very tempted to complete those sentences:
"...as they would do unto you." and
"...the consternation of the police at the roadblock."
(I need to practice temptation-resistance. Tae kwon don't.)
If bad bilingual puns are allowed…
They never understand my accent at that French Vietnamese restaurant. I asked for beef soup and they gave me an armchair.
(Phở tái vs fauteuil)
I almost struck myself down with a dreadful phrase just now. "Vested" in "vested interest", is as in "fully vested", not as in card tricks [and I'm not actually sure vesting a card has to do with card tricks... slow day indeed.]
Seen in the wild: Our email had an outage:
Due to the service laps, we many need to...
It all goes around.....
I just finished Last First Snow and felt compelled to re-read Two Serpents Rise. Early on, I ran across this one, which I didn't remember encountering before:
Sixty years after Dresediel Lex cast off the gods' yolk, its masters still demanded blood.
Kevin Marks @153, on bad bilingual puns - this from my sister, recently:
"I asked my German friend what he'd done at the weekend and he said he'd been rearranging the furniture - apparently he's put the table in the bath - bad-um-tisch!"
Wow, a pun that's it's own rimshot, that's impressive!
Reported seen in the wild: "No margarine for error."
I guess if they just barely squeezed by...
Headline at SFGate:
Man saves dog from mountain lion in his underwear
(There were at least two comments with the response you would expect.)
I just saw a flier for a "Fall Craft Bizarre".
Chris (162): How bazaar.
Pittsfield, Massachusetts, has a "Bizarre Bazaar" every October.
“We got out of the shoot extremely strong; very strong in the first few days.” — Tim Cook interview in The Telegraph.
TomB (164): I take it that the interview is not about shooting a movie? 'The shoot' would make sense in that context. (It took me a couple of tries to read it differently, and thus to figure out what was wrong with the sentence).
Just seen: "They don't have a lead singer per say."
I should say not!
Just seen: "They way as little as 150 grams."
One for Fragano's collection: 'it is a natural part of human nature to be weary of what is new'.
Colleague when told about a problem: "I'll have to put my thinking tap on."
Which, makes good sense for initiating the flow of solutions.
Not quite the usual, but an example of usage that clearly indicates the speaker didn't understand: heard a newsreader pronounce 'biopic' to rhyme with "my topic." BIO(graphical )PIC(ture), fool.
The more usual kind: an article about a SECOND armed militia showing up in Oregon, claiming they wanted to "diffuse the situation."
The situation is potentially explosive, not hyperconcentrated.
Fortunately, even the snackless white-ring terrorists knew the presence of an armed perimeter would not be helpful.
From an article on a new show: "The two actors are attached to toppling the pilot and series, if it scores a full pickup."
Why Autocorrect hasn't yet been indicted in the Hague for Crimes Against Humanity I cannot imagine.
Xopher (172): I can't figure out what that's trying to say. Any clues?
They meant "topping" as in "getting top billing." The two lead actors are on board for the pilot, and if it's picked up for a full season, they're in for that, too.
Came across a good one today: an "honor role student."
Thanks, Xopher (174). I could tell that 'toppling' was the problem, but I wasn't familiar with that use of 'topping' so I couldn't fill in the blank.
Just saw a new one (to me) on a restaurant's website: "Prefix 5 Course Menu"
It took a while for it to dawn on me that they meant "prix fixé", and then I burst out laughing.
From a Marin newspaper website:
"Sausalito anchor-out Peter Romansky had his own explanation for the theater’s troubles.
“I’ve been kicked out of the theater and banned,” Romansky said. “I’ve put a curse on the theater and will not lift that curse until I get an apology.”"
anchor-out = anchorite?
As he's from Sausalito, he might live on a boat.
I saw one this week: 'rain in' someone or something.
A kid describing himself as a secret "sex attic".
Oh, that could be - I forgot Sausalito has this whole houseboat community. It may be a local or a nautical term.
The Guardian said the authorities were "extolling" the public to stay off the roads.
"Praise to you, o Great Public! ...please stay off the roads."
I would guess that "anchor-out" refers to someone living on a boat that is anchored out away from the shore, as opposed to being tied up to a dock in a marina, or possibly tied to a permanent mooring buoy in a harbor. Living on a boat is sometimes cheaper than living on land, but tying up to a dock in a marina pretty much always costs money, and moorings in many harbors cost money. In most places anchoring your boat is free, though some places have regulations limiting where or for how long you can anchor.
Broken parallelism has become so common that it probably doesn't qualify as a Dreadful Phrase any more, but I still am irritated by, e.g., "When he awoke from his dream he was sated, dizzy, and red sauce stained his shirt." (As I was taught ~50 years ago, either the first comma should be replaced by " and" or the entire sentence should be rebuilt.) Has this become so common that people's minds just fix it while processing?
wrt "anchor-out": I can see that applying to someone who can't afford a slip (e.g., F-18) and has to anchor out in the water instead. Can anyone from that area suggest whether such a person has a tiny boat to get to the shore and back or pays for a dock slot as semi-suburban landlubbers such as myself pay for parking when we go into the city?
1) Syllepsis! Also known as zeugma! When it's used intentionally for humorous effect, it can be wonderful, as in Flanders and Swann's 'Have Some Madeira, M'Dear' - "She lifted the glass, her courage, her eyes, and his hopes." When unintentional, it can still be pretty funny but less wonderful.
I haven't seen enough of it to think it's become that much more common, though bad writing abounds.
Clifton, #185: My favorite bit is, "When he said, 'What in Heaven?', she made no reply, up her mind, and a dash for the door!"
A few weeks ago, I used 'cohering' as the verb form of 'coherent'. My mother didn't even blink.
I would use "cohere" in a physics context without blinking.
Mary Aileen #187: I think that's entirely correct.
David Harmon (189): "I wasn't cohering very well" to mean "I wasn't very coherent"? It doesn't sound correct to me.
Mary Aileen, #190: Maybe not strictly correct, but I would accept it as a fannish back-formation without hesitation.
Mary Aileen @ 190 ...
David Harmon (189): "I wasn't cohering very well" to mean "I wasn't very coherent"? It doesn't sound correct to me.
... which seems entirely apropos to me ;D
Mary Aileen #190: Hmm. ISTM The main problem with "I wasn't cohering very well" would be a lack of context, as to in what manner you failed to cohere. However, presumably you weren't spontanously disassembling, or badly attempting to align your wavelengths, so the conversational context does tend to imply itself. ;-)
(Note to self: No matter how cold it was outside, don't order a pot of tea with dinner. That leads to insomnia and 3AM postings.)
We no longer use coherers in our wireless apparatus, but a long time ago they were, as the kids say these days, A Thing.
I am corrected.
Lee (191), "fannish backformation" is about right. As I said, my mother didn't even blink at it.
Oh, and xeger (192) has the right of it: I was still no more than 3/4 awake when I came up with that.
A license plate rather than a phrase, but today I saw "ROUT 66". The owner had clearly had the plate for a long time, too.
Clifton: NOT syllepsis, and certainly not zeugma as I learned it (and Wikipedia defines it). These have a parallel structure (as shown in other comments), with sometimes a small mismatch ("he works his work, I mine"), so that phrases could be exchanged with minor disagreement in non-zeugma syllepses; compare the result to "he was red sauce stained his shirt and dizzy".
Found while down an Internet rabbithole: '... but maybe that’s just pegging the question here.'
"Beauty is truly in the high of the beholder."
No, not meant humorously or punnishly or ironically. *Sigh*
no, that's okay, you don't have to bid me farewell
Just seen on twitter:
"Your knockers are overly twisted"
GlendP, #202: Sadly, I can mentally reconstruct the format of the discussion in which that occurred, and make several guesses about the possible topic.
Lee #204: The topic was innocuous enough, but yes, the format of the discussion was all too familiar.
Sighted in a discussion on feminism: if you don't oppress women it will lead them "to pants wearing and the wonton urge to vote."
Someone will be in the soup over that one.
Cadbury Moose @207
The jokes just write themselves, don't they? Myself, I look forward to the day when dumpling emancipation is no longer controversial.
"[Her condition] was then exasperated by..."
Carrie S. (209): I don't know, I'm frequently in a condition of being exasperated by things. ;)
Heard a newsreader say that a killer was also wanted for the "disembodiment" of a young woman.
[Some effort] has been for not.
Lin, #212: Hee! I saw that one too.
So did I. (I was wondering whether the Lee I've been seeing there was you.)
"She let him too it." (left him to it)
Seen in an otherwise high quality fanfic, so I have to attribute it to authorial lack of sleep or the like.
from my hippy dipping days
"[He] lived in one of the refugee buildings – thrown up after the rest of Brooklyn was raised to the ground by the War."
Seen quoted by someone elseNet, in a similarly-themed sub-thread:
"You should never pleasurize someone else’s work."
Lee (219): That sounds like it means that the writer doesn't approve of slash.
Just seen onweb: "flee market".
I mean, I don't like them, but I'm not that melodramatic. Or fast.
The other day, one of the usual crowd was foaming on about "right ring femisnt."
Even what they MEANT doesn't make sense.
Xopher #222: I've got a left ring and a right ring. One of those might be involved.
I pointed out that before SSM was legal (it still gives me a little thrill to type that) some gay couples used to wear wedding rings on the right hand as a protest. Someone else pointed out that that's wayyy too logical.
Reason given for editing a forum post: 'forgot to inbed link'.
I'm not sure it counts, because the usage is correct and quite clear in context, but it amuses me so I thought I'd share.
I was completing a form about respite care for my daughter with special needs. In a series of questions about medical and technological needs (do they have any assistive technology devices, do they use a CPAP when they sleep...) it asked "Does this person use oxygen?"
Well, yes, but not in the way the question was intended.
#218 throwing up a building gives m an image of a great beast vomiting bricks
Erik, one of my friends in high school German class had, as his catchphrase, 'Iß den Dom!'—which is ungrammatical German for "Eat the cathedral!" as a command.
He drew many a picture of people devouring cathedrals. One of them was a multi-panel cartoon, and in the penultimate panel the Domesser, his head distorted into the shape of the Kölner Dom, announces that he's feeling ill. The last panel shows him bent over a pile of bricks and rubble.
When our summer exchange group visited Köln, we posed with mouths open and teeth bared near the buttresses.
My gods. That was FORTY years ago this summer. I am old.
"ALL MATERIALS ARE TO BE PACKAGED IN A MANOR THAT WILL PREVENT OUTSIDE CONTAMINATION FROM COMING IN CONTACT WITH THE MATERIAL, AND PREVENT SURFACE SCRATCHING DURING SHIPMENT OF THE PRODUCT."
Now picturing statuesque and stately homes being shipped around the world, with product safely ensconced within in a comfy chair. The look is slightly marred by every piece of furniture - and every other object within the house - being covered in a high-tech version of those clear vinyl covers you see on couches in the living room of many a house. The fire is, unfortunately, behind a high-tech version of one of those glass fronts. The drink on the sideboard is in a complicated vessel that would look more at home in a zero-gravity space station. Said homes have a cleanroom ventilation system installed, maintaining positive pressure within at all times. Doors and windows are locked, of course, and the very high-tech alarm system is always armed. The butler finds his dignity somewhat affronted by having to wear a cleanroom "bunny suit" as they check on the product and see to its needs throughout the journey. At least they can be satisfied that their white gloves always come away perfectly clean upon touching any surface in this immaculate house.
From an article in the Wall Street Journal:
"Liberals may have been fond of claiming that Republicans were all closet bigots and that tax cuts were a form of racial prejudice, but the accusation rang hollow because the evidence for it was so tendentious."
The word he was looking for was "tenuous".
From this article on lead poisoning, "infant morality".
Five minutes earlier I saw "sacrificing our children on the alter", but that had the dubious excuse of being an op-ed .
Guy on radio: [tells an illustrative story] That's one antidote, but we have studies and statistics that show the same thing.
May have been a momentary lapse. He was otherwise quite cogent.
You "hone" an edge. You "home in on" a target.
If you "hone in on" an answer, you make my teeth hurt.
Seen in the wild today: "he cagouled her until she gave in".
Lightweight raincoats are very persuasive.
On a Maintenance door card: "I would like to set a time to inseminate. Please call me at [number]."
The person who showed it to me opined that it was the opening of a porn scenario, but I think the person just meant "exterminate."
Come to think of it, the porn version of the Daleks would be saying "INSEMINATE! INSEMINATE!"
Consensually, of course.
In #233 Jacque doesn't mention the text that was bugging her, but perhaps it was page 19 of the Feb. 29-March 13 issue of Aviation Week and Space Technology. In an article about a counter-drone hijacking experiment during the Rose Bowl game, Graham Warwick quotes Randy Villahermosa of the Aerospace Corporation:"There were 100,000 people, 100,000 cellphones, Wi-Fi, satellite and terrestrial communications active during game time [...] We were still able to hone in, detect the drone, and exert control."
"There were 100,000 people, 100,000 cellphones, Wi-Fi, satellite and terrestrial communications active during game time [...] We were still able to hone in, detect the drone, and exert control."
From an answer on Quora: "... you spend a lot of time cowtailing to everyone around you--your supervisors as well as your client, your tenants, and the general public."
Found in a help forum about adding watermarks to images on a website, whether to add to image or:
...adding watermark "in the fly".
>> ... you spend a lot of time cowtailing to everyone around you ...
This one took me a few seconds, because in east Africa (and probably other places) there is such a thing as a fly whisk made of the hair of a cow or bull's tail, so I imagined cowtailing as a metaphor for some helpful act in service of keeping pests away from one's superiors and senior colleagues.
(I brought a bull tail whisk back from my trip, but found that I strongly prefer the western fly swatter.)
'Cow tailing' actually makes a certain amount of sense. Or at least I can see how they got to it. What we have here is someone who has heard the phrase 'kowtowing to' but is not familiar with the word itself and has never seen it spelled. So they turned it into something familiar.
My partner and I call that an Inverse Gazebo Error. A regular Gazebo Error is when you don't know how to pronounce a word because you've only seen it written.
I remember having that very thing happen when I first encountered the word "kowtow"; for a while I assumed it was pronounced "co-toe".
I just heard someone say 'pneumonic device' (talking about how to remember thing).
#241 Mary Ailenn: It's a common enough phenomenon that linguists have coined a name for it: "eggcorn". ("Eggcorn" for "acorn" is the prototypical example.) Take a look at The Eggcorn Database for more examples. (I'm rather proud of having brought the phrase "beyond approach" to the attention of the compilers of the database.)
Aargh. I was being so careful to get the "A" in "Aileen", and wound up with a double-"n". Sorry about that!
Jim Parish (246): Don't worry about it. You got both parts of my name in there, that's the important thing.
I worked at a place where the design documents and code comments were required to define all the mnemonics they contained. In practice it was almost always misspelled as 'pneumonics'. It was scary. All it took was one person to misspell it and everyone else would copy it. It was like a plague.
TomB #248: <low-hanging-fruit> The pneumonic plague? </low-hanging-fruit>
Lee@242 - I am so adopting 'Gazebo Error'. Much more concise than 'I-often-see-it-written-I-never-hear-it-spoken Error'. And when one spends much of one's time among geeks, one has a use for a concise way to say that!
Lee #242, SunflowerP #250: Hmm. "Gazebo Error" makes me think of a very different sort of error:
Early in the history of D&D, one of the sample adventures¹ started in a house with a gazebo behind it. A significant number of 10 and 12-year old players² were told by their similarly-aged DMs "behind the building, you see a gazebo", assumed it was some kind of monster, and responded with "I attack the gazebo!", leaving the DM snickering and/or frantically trying to figure out what AC and hit points a gazebo had.
¹ I forget whether it was in the Basic set or the first AD&D adventure booklet.
² Including me, IIRC. ;-)
One of those was written up as Eric and the Dread Gazebo.
#251/252: Yes, that's where it came from. It seems pretty obvious that the player in question had never heard anyone say "gazebo" and thought it was pronounced GAZE-bo, and that's why the repeated explanations of "It's a gazebo!" weren't penetrating.
Lee #253: I simply didn't know what a gazebo was, because I was 10 years old, and lived in a levittown where nobody had space for gazebos. (My DM did pronounce it properly.)
Your gazebo is no match for my friend's pergola.
I coined the term "to be /maizld/" (which is spelled 'misled') for the Gazebo Effect. :) This is because I saw it written much more than I heard it spoken, and was, well, misled as to the pronunciation. (I am not the only person I've met who invented this specific term for it, either.)
The Boyfriend uses /'maizld/ to describe malicious misinformation. /mis'led/ can be by accident or through ignorance.
When I was a kid, Watergate was in the news a lot. It was quite a while before I discovered that the word "indict" that I saw in the newspaper, and the word that I heard pronounced as "indite" on the news, which had similar meanings, were actually the same word.
Huh. Here's a variant of the Grocer's apostrophe I haven't encountered before:
We carry GAGS' & GIFTS'
My embarrassing couldn't pronounce word was archaeology. I mangled it horribly when standing in front of a university professor saying I wanted to study it. No excuse of being a child there :s
I mispronounce far too many words. My sister is the only one who corrects me, and as she's on the other side of the country, I don't get the corrections enough to have an effect.
Seen in the wild: "if you ever lose site of humanity, go watch a marathon".
(Or is that the Grocers' apostrophe?)
My always-mispronounced word (and it drives my husband batty) is "mosaic". I consistently say "mo-ZY-ic", rather than "mo-ZAY-ic". I have no idea why, and I can't seem to train myself out of it. All I end up doing is stuttering on the word...
Seen in an article on political rallies
yelling and causing a raucous
From the National Weather Service:
MANY ROADS ARE CLOSURED ACROSS NORTHEAST COLORADO.
I wish I could believe this was written by a robot.
Found on a menu, probably found on many menus these days
Chinese Chicken Chop Salad
It stands out because the rest of the menu is done very well. Complete sentences and everything.
"Chop salad" is a common term for a chopped salad -- Google it and you'll find many examples. It may be a dreadful phrase in some ways, but it's a very well known usage.
Making the rounds on the Canadian internet at the moment, a woman in Alberta wants to launch a "kudatah" against the provincial NDP government.
From the same place as the Chop Salad comes the online menu choices of
Choose up to 1 option.
I guess 0 is a choice.
It still makes me cringe. And it stood out in an otherwise well done print menu.
Talking about menu abominations always makes me think of "with au jus sauce", which shows up in places upscale enough that they really ought to know better.
or even just 'with au jus'. Aaarrrggghhh!
I once saw, "with au jus, in a sauce of its own natural juices."
Department of redundancy department on line one for you....
Lin Daniel #269: Well yes, you could skip the free side dish, or some other category. If that's showing for entree options, you might have a problem, depending how the system is setup.
Saw another restaurant offering a "pre-fix" Easter dinner. It was on the way home from lunch, so I went home and had a suffix.
On restaurant menus, the somewhat bizarre Chinese translations can be entertaining ("Fresh Cobster") or a trap for the unwary ("Chicken in black bean sauce. Not very hot." - they'd omitted the 'e'on the end of 'Note', to our considerable surprise).
www.engrish.com usually has some "interesting" translations, like the fire extinguisher, or the worrying No Smoking sign.
Just got a notcie from a Meetup group that the group is having a Meetup at the "Cheery blossom kite festival."
I've just read that rabbits of the same gender will fight "for mating rites and nesting sites."
dcb (279): Do rabbit mating rites involve giving each other brightly colored eggs?
Mary Aileen @280: Not so I've noticed... :-)
Someone I know just called someone else a "died in the wool conservative" on Facebook.
I suppose if you're going to die, there are worse places than in the wool.
Cadbury Moose@277: Victor Mair's posts on Language Log often try to tease apart particularly odd translations into English, like "spicy fried broccoli is better to die" on a menu, or "China Transfinite Governance". Sometimes there's a really obvious explanation; other times it takes some exploration, conjecture, and a trip through a bad dictionary. The "lost in translation" tag on the blog makes for fun browsing.
My first glance skipped over the I and I was left wondering why manacles would laugh.
Trying to shake loose a server error.
Seen in a comment section: "someone ... cutting me up in traffic."
In an otherwise wonderful article about a wonderful institution, an online magazine said the institution "strives to affect positive change." In the HEADLINE.
"Civil rights icon paying #amish to another civil rights icon"
If you've ever seen the picture of a dog getting sprayed with a hose with the caption "WHAARGARBL" on it? That is my face right now.
Elephants loom large in the life of people of the Lugenda River Valley.
Someone on Twitter today said she'd be "hard broken" if her partner (did something untrusting).
Bruce H. @289: isn't that just the intransitive verb "to loom", meaning to appear large, often over or above something (e.g. storm clouds or mountains are often described as "looming" over the scenery)? Or is it a mis-spelling of some other phrase that I'm overlooking?
Two things struck me about this:
1. Of course elephants loom large. That's what elephants do. It's not clear to me what this choice of words adds to the article. (See Orwell on cliches.)
2. It sounds like it was written by a 10 year old who had just learned about alliteration.
I just saw a job listing for a position at the Day School of the Scared Heart.
From Talking Points Memo today:
"We are in all new unchartered grounds," said Holland Redfield, a delegate from the U.S. Virgin Islands who has attended the convention as a delegate multiple times beginning in the 1980s.
Unchartered grounds, indeed.
From a smartphone review:
The power button has a seriously tactical design engraved into it.
It would depend on the context of the review; in some circles, "tactical" has come to mean something like "martial" (but more manly). Things like clothing, footwear, backpacks, shoulder bags, flashlights, even food can all now be marketed as "tactical", meaning they're available in one or more militaristic shades or camouflage patterns, and may have the right patterns of straps and buckles, or be implied to be more durable (without necessarily living up to that claim, of course).
I could imagine a deeply knurled black button, that resembled something on a firearm, being described as "tactical" by someone engaging in that sort of marketing.
I have a computer case that was marketed as "tactical" and "stealth". This despite having pretty light-up LEDs inside it.
That's funny. In the context of the review, the engraving made it easier to distinguish the power button by touch, so I think "tactile" would make the most sense. But it could be they really meant "tactical". It would be easy for me to miss that because I am really not into "tactical" styling.
From a free Kindle book (worth every penny)
Salesmen hocking mattresses (I wonder if the boss knows about that)
He decided to try a new tact
In the end it was all for not
When I found out it was in Mozambique, I hoped the Lugenda River would be close to the other famous source of alliteration, the great, grey-green, greasy Limpopo River, all set about with fever trees
Sadly, they're at opposite ends of the country. I suppose the elephant-looming is still probably about the same size.
From a web page I happened to have stumbled across: "most of the grudge work can be done automatically using a small utility I've created". While I have done some projects out of spite, I don't think that's what they meant.
Not necessarily a Dreadful Phrase, but can anyone tell me why the page linked to about medieval illuminated manuscripts over in the open thread (this one) says "The fact that these texts were bound with animal skins makes them pretty metal" as one of the two sentences in its description? Do you think they meant "meta" rather than "metal"? The metal portion of the binding doesn't quite fit another interpretation, at least in my head....
I feel pretty sure that "metal" is meant. I'm a bit fuzzy on just what "metal" means, but it's something along the lines of "good/cool in a way that is in accordance with the behavior of heavy metal musicians". (Which definition is itself not in the least metal.)
Compare The Most Metal Deaths in Middle-Earth, Ranked.
I would have said metal meant 'in accordance with the aesthetics of heavy-metal music' rather than related to the behaviour of the musicians.
Back in the middle ages it wouldn't have been either meta or metal to bind books made of animal guts with animal skins. If you did it today you could make a case for either. Though not both; I think they're mutually exclusive.
Okay, reasonable correction. I'd say, of course, that there's a certain natural overlap between the aesthetics of the music and the behavior of the musicians.
You could make a book cover that was both meta and metal if you then added a dust-jacket with spikes on it, I think.
From the History Things web site: "Scroll through the gallery and bare witness to some of history’s greatest images."
So is this like Heinlein's Fair Witnesses but without the white robe?
Additional annoyance, the post promises 30 great images, but the navigation bar shows 52 pages.
Hey, a little over half the images are great ones -- that's a pretty good average!
Only if you weight the images equally; experience of online galleries of "great images" suggests to me that the remaining 22 images will be ads, and therefore lack greatness disproportionately to their mere number.
From an article in the online Smithsonian Magazine (from whom I expect better): '... Oculus headsets that jettison us through time and space....'
Spotted in the wild: someone said that the right wing assumes that their "freedom" includes the right to "impose their fews on others."
And now, at quite a different location elseweb, someone else said that he'd been told something "a view times."
I'll be back in a bit. I just have to smash this desk to splinters with my head.
Damn you, autocorrect? V and F are right next to each other and the thing might have decided he forgot the I.
Mayyyybe, but the words are also very similar in sound. Still, one can hope.
Read a story today in which someone ordered lomaine noodles for lunch.
With a side salad of ro mein lettuce.
Speak my peace
My sorted past
A riff in the relationship
Maybe I should stop downloading free books for my Kindle
Went past an advertisement today for an apartment which has a photon.
One would hope it has plenty of photons.
Otherwise the interior would be very difficult to see...
I'm guessing it bounces around a lot. Mirrors everywhere.
Must be for light sleepers...
From an essay in the online Washington Post: "I would intend to write after tucking [the children] in at night; instead I would end up tidying the living room while my husband clambered for time with me."
Pretty sure her husband was clamoring, not clambering.
In the inbox today (regrettably not caught by the spam filter) the title of an e-mail was "Gaooool!!". Thought by me: "Why are they seeming really excited about jail?" followed by looking over to the actual e-mail in the preview pane and seeing it was about European style football, and the iconic yell of the commentators when a goal is scored.
Hmm. Now I'm thinking about commentators for fast-paced courtroom events...
cajunfj40 @323 -- The best example of this recently (or perhaps, just of a partisan commentator completely losing it over a goal) was from the recent Iceland match. (thinking about it, it's probably what you got)
Iceland, a small nation, without much in the way of footballers managed to finish second in their group with a goal in the last 30 seconds of their match to win, when they'd been on their heels defending for the last half hour, and a mistake doing that would have sent them home. I'm not a major soccer fan, but it was the soccer equivalent of a mic drop.
(And by small, something over 2% of the country was _in_ the stadium in France watching the game. )
Reading an interview with the producer of an upcoming TV series; the interviewer invites him to "wet the appetite" of the audience.
In the comments of an article about the latest episode of Game of Thrones:
why don’t the Umber’s rule all of Westeros? They seem to be about the only people in the land with the combination of shields, armor and spears. If they don’t get hit in the rear by cavalry, they could concur all.
"I agree whole hardly".
"...felt in know way restricted."
"Our dresses give you the instant hourly glass figure."
"...people would rather watch the tennis with their dog as apposed to their partner."
From an SFGate story on Juno:
After reaching a max speed of 165,000 mph — fast enough to fly around Earth in nine minutes — Juno will slam on the breaks by firing its engines. This is where things get tricky.
I don't know it is automiscorrect or someone who's using speech-to-text an not checking it.
P J Evans@331 - Them's the brakes.
"what do you guise think?"
"After the events of the movie, Our Hero goes on the lamb..."
I, um, don't think I've ever seen it called that before...
Said the narrator sheepishly?
"After reading through this, I don’t want anyone pronouncing Ralph Lauren’s last name in the same alliteration as Sophia Lauren [sic]."
"Don't be a pre Madonna"
On tipping in restaurants: "Its a potential mind-field."
So, a guy I know was perusing the a.s.s.m archives (purely for scholarly purposes you understand) and came across a story where "phonemes" was used where "pheromones" was intended. The story was old enough that I don't think this was a Cupertino (http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/myl/languagelog/archives/002911.html).
In a medical device testing job, I encountered another substitution that was a Cupertino. Many of the test scripts required a recirculating tube set, and endless loop of tubing filled with water to exercise the pump on the device. The problem was that in some of the the scripts, "recirculating" had been changed to "recalculating". I wondered about this, and fixed it when I found it, but never investigated. Several years later I found out that if MS Word doesn't recognize "recirculating", "recalculating" is its first suggested correction.
"religious anti-science sediment"
@341: Well, some religions believe man was made from mud, so I guess it could be right...
In connection with other events this week:
nomination by acclimation
NOW comes the coup de gras
@#$%& Win10 and IE.
PJ Evans @344: In my experience (UK) LARPers and tabletop roleplayers produce that one all the time - usually spoken, though; they'll spell it correctly, but say "coo de grah".
I think it's a hypercorrection: people know it's a French phrase, correctly remember that French often doesn't pronounce final consonants, and then incorrectly assume that applies here.
The -p in coup is not pronounced (it is not one of C, F, L, R), so that part's right.
re 3344 et seq: I'm pretty sure they're imitating some cartoon character but I couldn't tell you whose catchphrase it is.
"But can we all take a minute and marinate on the fact that he looks like Ash?"
"Eleanor was FDR’s eyes and ears in the country, she traveled endlessly, and she campaigned for human rights issues ignored by our society in those daze"
The days when the country was in a daze?
Sadly, a classic mistake:
"Pence will be elevated by this, especially if he takes the "clean up the mess" roll."
Craft (Alchemy) @347: I didn't realize how common an error this was. A quick search tells me it's used twice in Kill Bill, for instance. "Coo de grah" is the correct pronunciation of coup de gras; the error is in the "gras" part, which means grease or fat (as in foie gras, fat liver). The expression should be written coup de grâce and pronounced "coo de grass".
So if I whack someone with a bag of lard (my stomach, for example) that's a proper coup de gras?
(also, nice work!)
Really, I should stop reading the comments elsewhere:
"There are plenty of people in this country that believe in the occult of the Donald."
In terms of French hypercorrection, I heard one quite often when I was a tournament chess player in California. There's a phrase "en prise" that means a piece is threatened with capture; just about everybody said "on pre" when it should be "on preez".
"You've never suck out medical advice?"
(That has to be a generalization from "sneak --> snuck", right?)
Pendrift @353: The weird thing is that I'd bet that most of the people I hear saying "coo de grah" have learned it by reading ("coup de grace" is a reasonably common term to find in RPG or wargaming sourcebooks; the language of LARP is heavily influenced by the language of tabletop), but have somehow got from the correct spelling to the wrong pronunciation. I think this is where the hypercorrection comes in.
Xopher @354: *applause*
David Goldfarb @358: That's really interesting. I wonder what other instances of this kind of error are out there?
I've just heard the phrase "early adapters" about six times from different people on one radio interview. The context is people who immediately run out to get the latest-and-greatest thing, not people who are particularly protean...
Pfusand #357: Well, a lot of folks think he's the devil, but most don't mean it literally!
And lots of us would be in favor of his occultation.
Craft (Alchemy)@360: I wonder what other instances of this kind of error are out there?
The word "verdigris" might count, in either or both of English and French. In English I've heard the final "s" dropped as if in French; and I believe French now uses "vert-de-gris", which does drop the final "s". But, if I'm reading the etymology correctly, the common origin of the two is "verte de Grece" ("green of Greece"), which would have a final consonant even in modern French, and the term came into English with a final consonant.
Someone on Twitter was saying wacky things, and repeatedly proclaiming "Just my onion."
I commented that he really needs to pay attention to the text his autocomplete produces.
Xopher (365): I am amusingly reminded of my family's oft-repeated pronouncement "That's an opinion. Opinions are subject to controversy."
Wacky-twitter-dude's autocomplete would turn that into "Onions are subject to controversy." Why, yes. Yes they are.
*hopes someone here got his pun*
Xopher (367): I do now. But not until you mentioned that there was one.
Mary Aileen 368: That'll do!
Craft (Alchemy) @ various: do your gamers also refer to gods as "die-teez", or a magically-enforced onus as a "geese"? I've heard these are common in the US, but don't know directly as I haven't RPG'd for a long time; the closest I've come was providing some bureaucratic disentanglement for what may have been the first public LARP (Boskone, February 1982).
I think the SCA tourneys of the late 60s count as public LARPs, CHip (the Baycon Tourney was at least as public as something at Boskone); and possibly some of the Coventry games before that in LA.
CHip @370: I've never heard "die-teez" (I assume that first syllable is pronounced like the verb related to death, and the last the same as "tease"), and I've only rarely heard "geese".
I've always pronounced the latter as "GEE-as", with a hard "g". It's only recently (since I basically stopped using the word) that I've learned it's supposed to be pronounced "gesh".
I say "DEE-a-tees" for "deities," and "GHEE-ahs" (hard g) for "geas". I know that the latter is wrong, but it's a habit I can't seem to break; it's one of those words I learned from a page rather than by ear.
Pronunciation of "deities": all the RPers I know use what I would consider the correct UK pronunciation, "DAY-e-tees".
Pronunciation of "geas": we say it two syllables, "GEE-us". I'd never come across the "gesh" pronunciation before this thread. Huh.
I saw someone on Facebook say today that Trump has an "IV League education." I wonder if that means he had to be nursed through it.
Well, geas is Gaelic, at least Irish and possibly others. In Irish it's pronounced /gyas/, that is, palatalized /g/, /a/ as in 'father' (or a little darker, halfway to /o/ as in 'ought'), s as in 'seven sensational Saracens'. The plural is geasa, pronounced /'gyas-ə/.
Back in D&D days, we said /'ji-əs/.
A geas, in Celtic mythology and story, is not a spell. It is a personal behavior restriction that comes from the Otherworld, and often amounts to a prophecy about what you'll do just before you die.
For example, Cu Chulainn had the geasa that he was not allowed to eat the flesh of a dog (because he was the Hound ('Cu') of Culann), and that he was not permitted to refuse hospitality. His enemies found these things out, and invited Cu Chulainn to join them for a meal of dog's flesh. I can't recall what he did, but he broke one of his geasa and therefore died shortly afterward.
I don't know how the word is pronounced in any other Gaelic, or for that matter in any Irish dialect other than the one I studied. And I think gamers should borrow it completely and say it however seems right to them, and not fuss about others' pronunciation.
"The end is neigh."
(from one of those clickbait articles you get links to on Facebook)
The four horsemen of the apocalypse?
A friend sent me some job postings and suggested that some of them might be in my "wheel helm."
Nein, ich sagte, Wilhelm ist mein Bruder.
Xopher, good to know the big vote of confidence didn't turn your head.
It would have been rudder of me to say so than to remain quiet.
Xopher@378: To be answered with a Wilhelm scream?
"every once and a while" caught my eye in a promotional booklet from a technical publishing company who are usually very meticulous in their editing.
I've been noticing a new oddity among some of the network reporters, pundits, and assorted talking heads: they use "milestone" where presumably they mean "hallmark."
As in, "Such crude epithets are the milestones of the Trump campaign."
Bob Webber @#383: I've been noticing a new oddity among some of the network reporters, pundits, and assorted talking heads: they use "milestone" where presumably they mean "hallmark."
Maybe it's a different error, and they meant "millstone(s)"...
Xopher @ 376: A geas, in Celtic mythology and story, is not a spell. It is a personal behavior restriction that comes from the Otherworld... So Golias "put[ting] a geas on everyone in this hall" in the middle of Silverlock is improper usage? I've never seen it restricted as you describe, but meanings expand the way my waistline did when I got careless.
I think so, CHip. At least by what I was taught.
James Branch Cabell had people laying geasa on one another as early as the 1920's.
As for 'milestones', might it mean that the progress of the Trump campaign can be measured by its movement from one crude epithet to another?
"Since leaving the White House in 2001, the Clintons have irradiated their debt and made millions of dollars through speaking engagements. "
from yet another Facebook clickbait article
I guess that's one way to keep creditors away, with radioactive debt.
A review on BoardGameGeek of the Battlestar Galactica board game says that "the Cylons widdle away at the resource dials". I think if I was on the human team in that situation, I'd be pissed.
The modern Irish singular is actually geis, according to the dictionary, and that would be pronounced more or less as "gesh". Details at
http://www.teanglann.ie/en/fgb/geis, including plenty of examples. Scottish Gaelic has geas, according to Scannell's Gàidhlig-Gaeilge dictionary.
Discussing why dragon-taming, despite being cool, perhaps does not make the most practical sense: "[Dragons are] darn right dangerous..." I think they meant "downright"?
From an article on the CBC: "unchartered waters".
Em@393: "sailing on the wide accountancy"?
On Twitter, accompanying saaaaad pictures, "I'm balling my eyes out."
I commented that that's usually a rather more pleasant process, but had it pointed out to me by several people that it's not if it's done with a melon baller. Discussions about Œdipus getting one as a wedding present ensued.
"I was blind sighted by it."
From the I-shit-you-not NEW YORK FUCKING TIMES:
Mr. Roche, who was also in a relationship, sat back and took it all in. “Everyone was aware that this gorgeous woman had entered the room,” he said. But soon he and Ms. O’Brien were cutting up backstage over missed queues and fumbled lines and whatever else captured their fancy.
Missed queues. They forgot to wait in line? The NYT relying on spell checkers instead of employing copyeditors as custom, decency and all gods demand is surely a sign of the End Times.
Here's the link. In case they try to deny it when on trial for their lives later, I've also saved a screenshot.
Not as egregious, and not the NYT, but:
(((Susan Crites))) @neonnurse (via twitter) Just read a Denver Post article where someone says "We don't want to kick a gift horse in the mouth." Um...no, no, you don't. 0.o
Xopher -- I'm not convinced that was a spell checker; as Teresa noted in her previous book, copy editors can also have off days (or off books...). However, I see that it still isn't fixed.
"I would like to do that, but since I have to deal with her in person at least once a week I reframed."
Heard on a Globetrekker: "were under empirical rule".
Evidence-based government--now there's a concept. Those wily Hapsburgs!
joann, #401: Evidence-based government--now there's a concept.
No shit. It's one I wish we had.
*wondering if there's a T-shirt or bumper sticker to be got out of this*
This moose would happily settle for competent government, rather than the newspaper-driven shower of canine excreta currently in charge of the UK.
Someone is posting a story on the pagan forum I help run. It has a 'prolong'.
Given that it's an attempt at surrealism that consists of poorly-spelled, poorly-punctuated walls-o'-text, this strikes me as a singularly apt eggcorn.
"This pretty much summons it up."
TomB @405: "Draw some symbols on the floor, light some candles, read some lation. This pretty much summons it up."
On things to knit for winter comfort:
"a gator for the neck"
Carol Kimball (407): Like these?
(That does seem to be a common error; when I googled for alligator neck warmer, most of the results were for gaiters with the 'gator' spelling. Using scarf instead of neck warmer brought up what I wanted.)
I have to confess one I did myself. I wrote that we try to "insure that every child has a holiday gift." Fortunately I corrected it.
You can't actually buy "holiday gift guarantee" policies as far as I know.
My stoning will take place tomorrow at noon outside the city gates. All are welcome to observe; active participants should be without sin.
re: dyeing in a big pot and gradually adding more tint "to get an hombre effect".
Someone in a blog comment was worried that Muslim immigrants might try to impose Sahara Law.
Em, that's great. I've also seen "Shania Law."
All radio stations must play at least one Shania Twain song each hour?
I was thinking of the new album by Sharia Twain.
I've seen "Muslin extremists" a few times lately.
Gotta watch out for that unbleached cotton...
To invoke Article 50 without involving Parliament, the Government needs "the Royal Pejorative".
Michael 414: All radio stations must play at least one Shania Twain song each hour?
Raise your hand if you just flashed on Shania singing the Call to Prayer. *raises hand*
You know, I get that homophones are a thing, and it's especially tricky when going across languages. I try to cut people slack.
However, I feel that I must draw the line at referring to Adolf Hitler as "the Füror".
It's the fact that they umlauted the U but couldn't be arsed to take the 10 seconds (assuming they didn't already have a Google tab open) necessary to google the word that really gets to me.
Note to self: add "buco bucks", courtesy of Janice Gelb.
(good to see you posting, t!)
Teresa! Welcome back to feeling well enough to post!
once and awhile
Amazon review of Burn, Witch, Burn: "This movie should burn at the steak."
This question may belong in the open thread, but I'll ask it here for the context. Are there other English word pairs with the brake/break, stake/steak pattern?
Brake/brake in particular seems to trip a lot of people.
Bruce H. (425): Different final consonent, but there's great/grate.
Bruce H. @425, for a similar mechanism with (near-)homophones, I'd say affect/effect, but unlike the other pairs, a lot of people don't have a clear grasp of the difference. Bear/bare as well.
Lose/Loose seems to be the worst. I think it's because if you look at "lose" on the page, it looks wrong. You would expect it to be pronounced more like "Lowe's" instead of "Lew's". If only folks misspelled it "loos"; it would be a close match phonetically, and the English already look at us funny for so many other things, what's one more?
Bruce H. @ 425: I'm having trouble thinking of any other words where "eak" is pronounced like "ake". Are there others? There's "sheik" but I don't think I see that getting mixed up with "shake".
For a slightly different vowel pair, I believe I do see leek/leak confused from time to time. There's also reek/wreak, but I've never seen them confused; maybe anybody who knows how to use "wreak" in a sentence is likely to be past spelling problems.
From an accident report, I offer the news that a minor cut was "oozying".
I've seen "reek" and "wreak" confused. I don't know if it's someone who doesn't know the difference, or if it's automiscorrect.
I found "burned at the steak" particularly amusing because the writer was trying for a pun.
Bruce H.@425: I don't know if it's the full set of words, but my memory is that only a handful of words with "ea" came out of the Great Vowel Shift with that sound: "great", "steak", "break", "yea", "swear", and "bear" are commonly mentioned.
So then "bare/bear" would fit the pattern, despite ending in R instead of K.
So would "pear/pair/pare" I suppose. And "wear/ware".
Although that might depend on dialect; certainly they all sound the same in my dialect, but then, so does "merry/Mary/marry". But pen and pin sound completely different...
I've seen the phrase "reek havoc", and always took it to be an inverse gazebo error -- not knowing how the word is spelled because you've only heard it pronounced.
"Pear/pair/pare" all sound the same in my dialect as well, as do "wear/ware" (and "where").
But "merry/Mary/marry" are definitely three different sounds to me, and pen and pin sound completely different as well...
For further reference, I hear pear and wear rhyming with each other, and pair/pare sounding the same and rhyming with pare.
I also hear merry/Mary/marry as two sounds - merry and Mary/marry.
Given that I have relatives who were raised with the same dialect that don't make the same distinction, I wonder how much can be attributed to choral training?
Also, pin and pen are completely different sounds to me, but growing up I had classmates for whom they were the same.
"Where" doesn't QUITE sound like "ware" or "wear"; it's slightly breathier. So is "which" as opposed to "witch". Oddly, I make no distinction between "when" and "wen".
Del 436: Indeed, tier/tear/tare, the ends being distinct and homophonic with the two words in the center homograph.
In an obituary for the great historian and California State Librarian, Kevin Starr: "Dr. Starr attended St. Ignacious High School"
I think it's time for an airing of this poem:
The Chaos - by the Dutch writer G. Nolst Trenité, written in 1922.
Also know as English Pronunciation
Definitely British English pronunciation, and for a native speaker hard to read aloud due to fits of laughter!
This afternoon my coworker was looking at a website that also collected these. (I think they were real, not made up on the spot.) The two that stuck in my mind:
someone who spoke porch and geese
playing rush and roulette
That first one took me a minute to parse correctly.
dcb @ 443 - Much of it works in American English too, but there are occasional "say what?" points.
@443, mostly it works for me, but there are a few failures in my dialect. For example, "branch" rhymes perfectly with "ranch" to me. (Same "a" as in "and"). If there's another way to pronounce either word, I don't know it. And I never knew "Pall Mall" was pronounced differently than "pall mall" (pawl mawl). Probably because I've never heard it spoken. How IS "Pall Mall" pronounced...?)
I was taught that it's pronounced "Pell Mell" - it's an old game resembling croquet, and the place in London with the name was where it was played at the time.
PJ Evans, ok, now, that's fascinating. I've heard of doing things "pell-mell" (rapidly and recklessly) but had no idea that it came from a game called "pall mall" nor that "Pall Mall" was a gaming ground where it was played. (I'm assuming the etymology, here, but it seems logical.)
It's from the Italian palla e maglio, "pale (or stake) and mallet", in other words the game that evolved into croquet. The hoops are now a convenient way of putting the spikes in the ground at the regulation separation, but originally they were two separate spikes you had to measure carefully. You used the same mallet to knock them in as to play the balls with. When you hit the balls with the mallet, they rolled "pell-mell" across the grass.
...but I repeat myself.
"Pall Mall" - the road in London - is pronounced with a short 'a' as in "and" (and as in "pal" meaning friend) in both words: listen at https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/pall-mall
'pall' as in the sheet over a coffin, or a dark cloud of smoke, or even the verb (the quiet life began to pall" is pronounced more like 'pawl' or "Paul" (https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/pall).
The distinctions in three versions of "mall" I wouldn't have thought about, but I can hear the difference in the examples provided at the bottom of the page https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/mall
However, "branch" and "ranch" rhyme for me as well (and on that website).
From a list of causes of intermittent groin pain:
- Cute appendicitis
I assume it started as "Acute appendicitis" but I'm not sure how it lost the initial 'A' - probably from poor copy editing.
dcb @452: it amuses me when international travelers refer to the strip of green space and monuments in DC to rhyme with pal.
My husband (English father) does it on purpose and as a disambiguation technique from shopping plazas, because that sort of mess disturbs him. And also because it's funny. :->
I always thought Pall Mall was where you went to shop for coffins and stuff...
Only if you've been smoking them.
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