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December 7, 2018

Return of the Dreadful Phrases
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 07:59 AM * 847 comments

As it says in Ecclesiastes, of the making of books there is no end. And Seneca is (dubiously) said to have told us that errare humanum est1 (to err is human)2.

A side-effect of these two universal truths is that this thread is onto its third iteration.

  1. sed perseverare diabolicum, but to persist [in error] is diabolical.
  2. Alexander Pope added “to forgive divine”, which might argue agains the existence of these threads.3
  3. On the other hand, Augustine said da mihi castitatem et continentiam, sed noli modo, give me chastity and continence, but not yet.
Comments on Return of the Dreadful Phrases:
#1 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2018, 08:47 AM:

I did not grow up in a tradition that studied St. Augustine (or, for that matter, Jesus Christ, Moses, or Mohammed).

What was he referring to with "continentiam"? In context, I doubt he was talking about the ability to voluntarily control urination.

#2 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2018, 08:50 AM:

"Continent" means pretty much "able to control oneself". The meaning has narrowed.

#3 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2018, 08:56 AM:

Well, it's control, and it's control of the same's basically a synonym for chastity. It's a tautology.

#4 ::: rm ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2018, 09:26 AM:

Is this politics-free? Because our not-president says we have "BOARDER" problem, which means that the Third Amendment is needed, perhaps for the first time ever.

#5 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2018, 09:26 AM:

From Adam-Troy Castro's FB. "Spotted in the ARC of a really outstanding upcoming novel: 'The glasses on the bridge of his knows.'"

#6 ::: rm ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2018, 09:27 AM:

OtterB@5: not the best song Kansas recorded.

#7 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2018, 09:48 AM:

Can I get a citation for that Seneca quote? I cannot find it.

And I think it is vanishingly likely that he would use the word "diabolicum", which gets into Latin as a transliteration of New Testament Greek.

So maybe he said something like "errare humanum est" somewhere, but I strongly suspect that second half comes much later than Seneca.

I feel bad for being so pedantic. But then again, the "dreadful phrases" threads are natural display-cases for pedantry, so maybe it is less out of place here?

#8 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2018, 10:18 AM:

Oldster, I cannot find a citation for it, but it is universally attributed to Seneca.

Diabolicum is not a common Latin word, but the Greek word διαβολικός means "slanderous" or "lying". (It's also not common; I can see no references to it before the common era in Perseus.

I'll amend the entry to say it's attributed to Seneca.

#9 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2018, 10:30 AM:

I'm afraid that between us we are illustrating the saying of St. Ambrosius, "to err is human, but to make a big deal pointing out other people's errors is, like, being a jerk."

I'm pretty sure it was St. Ambrosius?

I could be wrong. As Martin Luther said to the Pope in his 95 theses, "yeah? well, you know, that's just like, your opinion, man."

#10 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2018, 10:58 AM:

Oldster, you are correct; it is Ambrosius who wrote errare humanum est, sed volgo errores aliorum indicare equidem crudelis est.

It's in De Officiis Ministrorum, Book IV, De Mediis Sociabilibus.

#11 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2018, 11:29 AM:

ah, yes: the de Mediis Sociabilibus. Part of his projected summa, left incomplete at his death, de Tela Totius Terrae, vel de origine mali humani.

An amazing visionary, Ambrosius! He it was who first laid down that golden precept, troglodytae non pascendae sunt.

#12 ::: Don P. ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2018, 01:09 PM:

I saw "a cry and shame" yesterday.

#13 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2018, 02:07 PM:

just seen:
the pompous circumstance and ceremony

#14 ::: crazysoph ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2018, 02:02 AM:

I'd just like to say that the conversation between oldster and abi, #7-11, is exactly what I love about reading things here. I learn so much, so much!!

Crazy(and very grateful to everyone here)Soph

#15 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2018, 06:35 AM:

Oldster wins, well, an internet for Tela Totius Terrae.

#16 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2018, 11:38 AM:

absolutely no credit deserved for TTT, because that is simply its official name in Vatican Latin:

One of their many articles about the Interrete:

I want to thank abi for our exchange of bad Latin, but so far as "learning" anything goes, Soph, I would take it all cum Drano salis.

(e.g., I made a beginner's mistake by writing "pascendae" instead of "pascendi"; "troglodytae" looks like a feminine ending, but it's a masculine noun. First-year Latin fail.)

#17 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2018, 12:25 PM:

nauta is Latin for "sailor" - but it's a feminine-form noun. Languages are weird.

#18 ::: Russell Letson ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2018, 12:54 PM:

In Othello, when Roderigo says, "I will incontinently drown myself," he's not indicating any particular body part but general lack of self-control.

#19 ::: Pfusand ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2018, 12:58 PM:

P J Evans @17
Nauta (sailor), poeta (poet (surprise!)), and agricola (farmer) are all masculine, but they are first declension, which means they are very old words indeed.

#20 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2018, 01:04 PM:

Russell @18 --

oddly enough, "incontinently" here has a different etymology from the more familiar word "incontinent", where the "in-" means "not".

"incontinently" as an adverb of time is from the phrase "in continenti tempore," i.e. in continuous time, without any interval, where the "in-" represents the preposition "in" instead of the negative prefix.

So English gets two adverbs "incontinently," one being the negation of "continently," and the other meaning "right away."

But PJ Evans put it more concisely at #17

#21 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2018, 09:58 PM:

Total derail here but: I had a wonderful Latin teacher, who was the one that got me hooked on "Useless Information". Decades after high school, when I started working at my current job, I discovered that she had worked there also, some years earlier. Had made enough of an impression that, when she passed away, they named a meeting room after her. (Which was weird the first time I encountered it: "What, was that—? Surely not! Oh yeah, it is. Huh." Also was the one who made them (and I can fully visualize her twisting appropriate arms (figuratively speaking, of course)) name our local Craigslist-equivalent, "Agora."

She wasn't just a Latin teacher, she was a Latin geek.

#22 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2018, 10:13 PM:

Jacque @21 --

She sounds like a wonderful person.

And I am sure she did not twist any arms at all.

As a good Latinist, she simply promoted the alignment of brachial incentives.

#23 ::: MC Alcock ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2018, 08:58 AM:

Apologies for being OT...

15+ year follower, 2nd time poster, but given HW's passing, I find myself struggling to contextualize the awfulness of the Bush clan, and looking for the "Aristocrats" post on this site. It was great and has stuck with me for over a decade, but I can't find the link. Any help appreciated. Thanks!

#24 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2018, 10:05 PM:

MC Alcock: Maybe yes, maybe no, but the search phrase:

bush aristocrat

produces results that are worth revisiting in their own right....

#25 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2018, 09:38 AM:

The winner of Literary Review's Bad Sex in Fiction award has been announced for this year. If you ever had any doubts about James Frey's writing ability, they've been well and truly rewarded. The Guardian has excerpts from this year's all-male list of nominees.

#26 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2018, 12:29 PM:

P J Evans @ #17: There are several others, but they're not in first-year Latin books because they're naughty. Look up "mentula" (a name Catullus gives to an enemy in a famous scabrous poem).

#27 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2018, 01:56 PM:

I have, actually, a bilingual edition of Catullus.

#28 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2018, 09:11 PM:

I thought diabolical meant havign two bollocks

#29 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2018, 09:48 PM:

The indispensable Notes & Queries is on the case.

It looks as though two different authentic quotes got conflated:
In the 1st century BC, Cicero said “Any human can make a mistake; it takes a fool to persist in his mistake”;
(Cuiusvis hominis est errare; nullius nisi insipientis in errore perseverare. Philippics xii.2.5)

In the 5th century AD, St. Jerome said, “To sin is human, but to lay traps is diabolical.”
(Peccare enim hominis est, insidias tendere diaboli. Adv. Ruf. iii.33)
(Cf. “lead us not into temptation etc….”)

But neither one said “to persist in error is diabolical.”

And thank heavens for that! Many of us persist in error without supernatural aid of either kind.
(To keep up with my perseverated errors would exhaust a troop of devils.)

So it is deeply unclear when this formulation arose, sc. errare human est, sed perseverare diabolicum.

I see it listed in the Italian Wikiquotes,
And German Wikiquotes.

But neither has any citation for that formula — they give no source or provenance.

We can get a good hint of its date from the fact that no one seems to have said even the first half — even just the “errare humanum est” part — until 1745.
(See the citations in N&Q: things like it, true, but not that phrase.)

I suspect the conflated version is much less than 300 years old.
For all that these records show, it may have been coined in the last few years; a trap laid for the unwary by someone who thought himself devilish clever.
I myself don't think the conflation *is* devilish clever. But I do think it would be foolish to persist in spreading it further.

#30 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2018, 09:53 PM:

Oh! And note also that the indefatigable Sonnenschein who contributed the note in N&Q betrays no awareness of the "to persist is diabolical" formulation.

That's more good reason to think that it is quite recent, i.e. post 1904.

#31 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2018, 01:49 AM:

Wait, Really? Though I suppose I probably use Google Translate as much to cheat at Latin as I do for more current languages.

Also, that Ambrosius did make a fine salad.

#32 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2018, 01:56 AM:

rm@4 The "boarders" missspelling reminds me of the Grateful Dead album's working title about "Ugly Roomers from the Mars Hotel".

#33 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2018, 12:12 PM:

both also vied into conspiracy theories

Oy. I don't know if that one is autocorrupt or user error.

#34 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2018, 11:26 AM:

A somewhat different kind of error, from a Newsday article about building bulkheads along a shoreline that was hard-hit in Sandy:

" protect and ensure the city's very inhabitability and the continuity of life on the barrier island."

#35 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2018, 01:02 PM:

me (34): No, wait, I'm getting my negations confused. The 'in' in 'inhabitability' is not a negation; that would be uninhabitability'. So that statement I quoted is fine.

Nevermind. /Litella

#36 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2018, 02:20 PM:

Mary Aileen (35) I read that several times and couldn't see what was wrong with it but figured it was just me. :-) Sort of like the "inflammable" problem.

#37 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2018, 03:02 PM:

OtterB (36): Yep! Flammable/inflammable, habitable/inhabitable. Same-same. Sorry for the confusion.

#38 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2018, 10:08 PM:

Trying to sew maximum confusion

#39 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2018, 11:25 PM:

@38, now that would be an interesting cosplay...

#40 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2018, 04:20 PM:

"You don't want to tip your hat too early...."

#41 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2018, 02:09 AM:

Somebody referred to "getting soak and wet" from the rains we're finally having more of here. That's what happens when you tip your hat too early, I guess.

#42 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2018, 09:28 AM:

Cassy B @39, cosplay would be easier if you were dealing with major confusion or general confusion rather than maximum confusion.

#43 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2018, 01:01 PM:

OtterB #42

Private confusion being subordinate to the others?

#44 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2018, 01:10 PM:

Abi #3

“Chastity” can also mean “loyalty and faithfulness within a relationship”. This isn’t quite the same as continence.

#45 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 17, 2018, 05:54 PM:

"I heard you had built a report with Biru."

#46 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2018, 05:29 PM:

Someone posted a scan of a want-ad page from Oklahoma - the ad they did it for is for dealing with a green dragon. But the one above it is for help wanted to clear right-aways....

#47 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2018, 06:58 PM:

I think they wanted to clear the cleaners immediately, hence "right-away clearing" -- rather than wanting to clear rights of way.

Having had green dragon problems of my own years ago, I can understand what the ad-placer wants there; but how did he reach an agreement with the red dragon? They're usually fiercer.

#48 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2018, 09:21 AM:

From the captions on a BBC video about a mother cat who adopted some ducklings along with her newborn kittens: "mothering hormones were coarsing through her blood."

#49 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2018, 10:27 AM:

True but redundant: "errant nonsense".

#50 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2018, 10:28 PM:

KeithS (49): Not necessarily; there is such a thing as deliberate nonsense*. However, the phrase does appear to be self-referential.

*the works of Lewis Carroll spring to mind

#51 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2018, 08:42 AM:

oldster (and abi): I just looked into this for a copy-editing job, and the quotation is complicated. errare humanum est appears in Seneca, I believe, and was certainly current in his day: the Cicero variant is only one example of what seems to have been a common phrase.

sed perseverare diabolicum does not appear in Seneca's surviving works, which does not of course mean he didn't write it. But the most likely source is Ambrose's contemporary St Augustine,Sermons 164.10.14: Humanum fuit errare, diabolicum est per animositatem in errore manere: it is human to err, but devilish to cling on to your error out of contrariness. His target was the Donatists, whom he figured knew they were wrong but didn't want to admit it.

And Fragano is right: castitas and continentia in Augustine's day were terms with different technical meanings: chastity did not rule out sex but meant having sex only within a legitimate marriage; continentia is really just self-control, but applied to sex in general. Neither implied virginitas, which Jerome was pressing for at the time.

#52 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2018, 10:54 AM:

candle @51--

Thanks! That is super interesting and helpful.

Because you give a citation for the Augustine sermon, it is possible for anyone to go to a standard edition of Augustine and verify what it says, and also understand its context.

You'll find sermon 164 listed along the left column here.

That's how one attributes a quotation to an historical figure.

And when someone can give me a citation in a standard edition of Seneca's works which contains " errare humanum est," then I'll be happy to attribute that to him, too.

But I have checked the standard editions of Seneca, and I cannot find it. I cannot find anything like it. If he said something like it, he used different words.

Looking for a quotation is not a mysterious process: the writings of Seneca are now just a text-file (or several text-files) like any other file, and can be searched mechanically.

Maybe I searched badly, or unimaginatively, and something like this quotation remains to be found in Seneca. That's fine! In that case, someone will find it, and give us a standard citation, and we'll all know where it is, and have evidence that Seneca said it.

But until then, we have no reason to attribute it to Seneca.

We have no other access to "what Seneca said" than this. We have no grounds for saying "Seneca said X" other than what we find in the writings of Seneca.

(Well, his writings, augmented by early reports from reliable witnesses. Luckily, such early reports are now generally included in an author's published corpus as "fragmenta" or "testimonia" and the like, and are equally amenable to searching and citation.)

So: can someone show some evidence, before continuing to say "Seneca said this"?

Related point: proper citation not only gives us solid evidence for attribution, it also gives us *context*.

And context in this case allows us to observe two things about the "in errore manere" line in Augustine:

1) it is not *all* persistence in error that is labeled diabolical here, but rather persistence when animated by animosity;
2) it is also possible, given the context, that Augustine is not speaking about any persistence other than the persistence of the Donatists. That is, the sense here may be "to err is human, but *the Donatists'* persistence in error is clearly motivated by animosity, spurred on by Satan." Heretics are the limbs of the devil, after all.

So: given what Augstine says here, it is likely that he thinks that there is a lot of non-diabolical persistence in error -- for instance, any persistence not motivated by animosity. It is also possible that he thought there was even persistence based on animosity that was not diabolical, so long as it was not the persistence of heretics like the Dponatists.

That said, this is a terrific find, which thoroughly explodes my contention in #29 that quotations that link persisting in error with diabolical causes are the result of a conflation in the last few centuries. For that I'm very grateful.

#53 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2018, 10:58 AM:

Hmmm...not a great link.

Try this one.

#54 ::: oldster ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2018, 11:02 AM:

Sigh. I'm not good at embedding links, so here it is unembedded:

#55 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2018, 11:47 AM:

This fits in with some of my brother's kvetching about The Big Bang Theory. Sheldon has a theory, and then finds out that a previous guy, a Russian, had the same thought, and then said it was obviously wrong. Hilarity ensues, as they say.

It's all over very quickly, and that's not science. You persist in error, until you resolve the discrepancy. If you have different results from an experiment, you want to know why the difference happens.

It started with my brother complaining about people (he was less polite) contracting out the task of finding citations, on the grounds that If you can't find your own citations you don't understand what you're working on. I can see that, synonyms come into it for any search.

And, yeah, what you are using the error for has to matter.

Incidentally, he keeps posting pictures to Twitter, mostly landscapes. Including infra red, which does all sorts of strange things: black skies, no haze, white grass, it's odd. He bought a modded camera, but some smartphones can detect IR. Try yours, look for a light on your TV remote.

Infra-red picture here

#56 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2018, 09:41 PM:

"she heard cries of help"

Really? We're having trouble with prepositions now?

#57 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2018, 09:42 PM:

Oh dear. I spoke too soon:
"155 miles-per-hour winds ravished the home"

Did it at least offer a smoke after...?

#58 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2018, 09:55 PM:

Jacque (56): Maybe it's not preposition trouble but punctuation trouble: She heard cries of "Help!".

#59 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2018, 10:46 AM:

In the “funding provided by” section of several Season 11 episodes of Cook’s Country:

“Wine and recipes have one thing in common: they’re made with love and meant to be shared.”

#60 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2018, 10:07 PM:

I think this one needs a little re-writing:
As she so longed to do, she is now free to run barefoot jubilantly through the gardens of Heaven with her redeemer and adoring husband.

#61 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2018, 12:30 AM:

"My parents, Ayn Rand and God"

#62 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2018, 12:34 AM:

Yes, but which is which?

#63 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2018, 12:50 AM:

Someone I know just printed up lyrics (copied from an online source without editing) for "Silent Night,", which included the line "Round you Virgin, Mother and Child" -- does that imply that Joseph was the Virgin, instead of Mary? Makes for a much less interesting Nativity, sort of a Dog Bites Man headline.

#64 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2018, 04:14 PM:

"cultural moors that were no longer normal"

Or pining thereon, I imagine.

#65 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2018, 04:44 PM:

I don't think the headline is saying exactly what they meant:
Newspaper plant virus halts Los Angeles Times deliveries

#66 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2018, 02:12 PM:

Carrie S.: or, to prove that an Oxford comma is not the solution:

"To my mother, Ayn Rand, and God"

#67 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2018, 03:40 PM:

candle (66): Yay, a sample sentence in which the Oxford comma is wrong! I had come across one once, but could never find it again.

My tenth grade English teacher taught us always to use the Oxford comma*, on the pragmatic grounds that sometimes it was necessary and was never wrong, so if we got in the habit of using it, we wouldn't have to stop and think about whether this particular sentence needed it. A few years later, I did find a counterexample, but I kept using the Oxford comma anyway.

*although she didn't call it that. She might have used the term 'serial comma', but I think she (we) didn't have an actual name for it.

#68 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2018, 04:50 PM:

66 & 67: Uh...I don't get it...? Candle's example tells me there are three people being addressed:
1. Mom
2. Ayn Rand
3. God

What am I missing?

#69 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2018, 05:01 PM:

"Mom" can be misunderstood as "Ayn Rand".

#70 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2018, 06:18 PM:

Jacque, consider: "And to my mother, Connie, I leave the following..." Even in the list form what's between the commas can be construed as a clarification, not an additional entry in the list.

#71 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2018, 06:42 PM:

@69 & 70: Hm. Okay. I guess? I mean, that's not how I parse it at all. Which says that, to me, the Oxford comma very much is the correct construction here?

How would you edit it so it would be clearer that it's a list?

#72 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2018, 08:46 PM:

Jacque (71): It's the wrong construction because it *can* be misread, not because it inevitably will be.


"God, my mother, and Ayn Rand" would work. So would putting "my mother" at the end.

"My mother, God, and Ayn Rand" is a bit more dubious but should still be okay.

#73 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2018, 08:48 PM:

Or just leave out the Oxford comma in this case. That works, too.

#74 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2018, 10:50 PM:

It's not the Oxford comma that's the problem there. There are two issues:

  1. The order of the list introduces ambiguity, and
  2. The author has the execrable taste to dedicate someone to that icon of selfishness, hypocrisy, and horrible hack prose, Ayn Rand.

#75 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2018, 11:05 PM:


  1. Thank you. I couldn't quite articulate it, but that's exactly my issue, and
  2. *snrk!*
#76 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2018, 12:11 AM:

Honestly, in that case, I'd dedicate it, "To my mother, and Ayn Rand, and God."

Well, actually I'd personally never dedicate ANYTHING to Ayn Rand other than, possibly, a bowel movement, but I believed that's the least ambiguous solution to the problem.

#77 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2018, 12:14 PM:

"To my mother, to Ayn Rand, and to God". Which also fixes it, but, yeah, I'm not dedicating anything useful to Ayn Rand.

#78 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2019, 06:36 AM:

Pretty sure this one is an auto-miscorrect: “They have not yet reached full burnout, but they are encroaching it,” she said.

#79 ::: James E ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2019, 09:27 AM:

Spotted on Twitter: “up ship creak without a paddle”

#80 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2019, 09:48 AM:

Yes, my point (as Mary Aileen says) was only that the Oxford comma does not inevitably clear up any and all ambiguity. There are plenty of ways of fixing the sentence, but that is also true of other ambiguous sentences which do not use the Oxford comma.

I do agree with Xopher and others that the far more significant problem here is anyone dedicating anything to Ayn Rand, but I believe that is the trad. illustration of the case.

#81 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2019, 07:57 PM:

Ayn Rand is in the traditional illustration because she didn't want to share credit for anything with anybody, certainly not with God.

#82 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2019, 12:35 AM:

This one's not the usual sort of eggcorn, but it seemed on-topic. I'm on the mailing list for the local jeweler from whom we commissioned our wedding rings. Their latest one, advertising the resale of a pearl ring, made me go, "How's that again?":

There's a story behind every gem. What was once someone's treasure, now withholds the opportunity for a new journey.
#83 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2019, 05:45 PM:

David: "You might want it, but you can never have it! Mwa-hah-hah!"

Yeah, one suspects they meant "holds." Unusually creative autocarrot?

#84 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2019, 12:07 AM:

It looks to me like an antonymization of "presents". Someone hit an on-line thesaurus and clicked one too many times?


#85 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2019, 02:34 PM:

This section will brevily look into state handling

"Brevily" is a delightful coinage!

#86 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: February 10, 2019, 09:14 PM:

" is a flex duck 3" in diameter." Whereupon I immediately pictured a rubber ducky.

#87 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2019, 12:00 AM:

Yes, that would be where you use your duck tape.

#88 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2019, 12:45 AM:

About an hour ago, our TV started screaming about an Amber Alert. (Except, bizarrely, it said "Presidential Alert", which is particularly odd given that we're in Canada.) The alert was about a child abduction that had apparently occurred about 5 hours drive from here.

Which, okay, isn't completely silly given that the father and child were last seen about 9 hours ago. But the alert was read by an automated system that totally mangled not only the names of the father and child, but the type of the car. "Honda Sivitch". This is... counterproductive.

#89 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2019, 09:42 AM:

The L.A. MTA (bus/light rail system) has text messages with computer-read audio. It needs training: it reads the slashes as "slash". (It also spells out some of the abbreviations.) This doesn't make it easy to understand.

#90 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2019, 10:47 AM:

I'm reminded of one of my favorite abbreviation-expansion bloopers. Several years ago - so probably wouldn't happen now - I was looking online for a map to an address that included the road FM 1960 in Houston. The FM road names are common in Texas - it stands for Farm to Market - and that particular one is a major road in its part of town. FM 1960 is the name of the road; it doesn't have any other name.

The map program kept translating FM as "Federated States of Micronesia," which did not produce useful mapping results.

#91 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2019, 11:00 AM:

I wonder what it would have done with the Texas RM roads. (My parents' house in west Texas was on FM 179 - the address while they lived there was a box on a mail route, but now it has an actual house number.)

#92 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2019, 07:51 PM:

I have seen -- and perpetrated -- some address expansion bloopers in my time. But fortunately placing the Federated States of Micronesia in Texas was not one of them. We would expand FM 1960 to FM Road 1960 and make sure it is slotted into the same bucket as County Road, State Highway, and so on.

For RM the easiest mistake would be to expand it to ROOM and then decide that the following number is a suite or apartment number.

#93 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2019, 02:04 AM:

OtterB: I've encountered that one! It happens that I live just south of a Farm to Market road (albeit one that does have another name, to wit, Westheimer). When I first moved to Houston, I was driving and using a Garmin GPS device. And when it instructed me as to which freeway exit to take – well, there was the FM right in the name of the exit. (Why it had to expand the abbreviation instead of saying "FM", I confess I don't know.)

#94 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2019, 01:03 PM:

The GPS thing that gets me is numbers. My Garmin always expands them to their full value.

Example: 1779
The standard way to say that in an address is either
one seven seven nine
seventeen seventy-nine
My Garmin pronounces it one thousand seven hundred seventy-nine


#95 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2019, 02:14 PM:

I have not been impressed by Garmin GPS devices. Last month when I was in the area of Victoria, BC, I had a rental car with a Garmin. I was trying to get from a hospital to the house I was staying in, which was rather secluded in the hills. When the GPS told me to follow a different route than the one I expected, quite late one night, I did a mental shrug: perhaps it knew a back route that was shorter and/or faster than the somewhat roundabout highway route. But the roads got rougher, and narrower, and darker... then into the forest, and the road turned into a one-lane bumpy path. And then the GPS told me to drive into a tree.

Working hypotheses: (1) the GPS was hacked by a serial killer; (2) the GPS was possessed by the malevolent spirit of my late mother-in-law.

I was told later that the route I was directed to was shorter in terms of distance, though longer by time (the device was supposed to optimize for the latter). And technically passable in daylight if one was not concerned about one's suspension.

It took me some creative route-planning to trick it into directing me via a reasonable path. It made several other poor choices. And another Garmin unit that I borrowed for a while last year made some similar mistakes. Though I find it very useful -- in some cases I would say necessary -- to have a navigator when I don't know my route well, I wouldn't choose a Garmin.

#96 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2019, 11:39 PM:

There's a half-block stretch of a street I commonly walk to and from work that Google Maps will not plot a path for. It insists on routing you around that stretch of road (by preference, over two blocks so you can helpfully stop by the transit center—that you have no need to go to if you're trying to walk from point A to point B), even when the route adds anywhere from a quarter to a half mile over the direct straight shot down the road. There is absolutely nothing remarkable about that stretch of street to warrant this diversion.

I have more than once considered stopping in to the Google campus a block away from the "problem" stretch of road and pointing this out to them.

#97 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2019, 11:07 AM:

Various #88-96: It may in fact help to file error reports, though I'd bet it helps more for Google than for Garmin. Which says nothing about the ethics of a company crowdsourcing their error-correction to their user base.

I've written previously about the time I tried to use Apple Maps to walk (that is, explicitly selecting "walking directions" from my house to downtown.

First it directed me along a highway most of which didn't even have sidewalks. Eventually, it directed me to turn right off the highway and cut across to another street. Turning and looking off the shoulder of the highway, I beheld: Old barbed-wire fencing, a 15' deep gully, a 10' chain-link fence, and a few hundred feet of forest, beyond which was visible the back of a small shopping center's parking lot.

Admittedly, that was a few years ago, but it made me quite wary of their walking directions since.

#98 ::: Singing Wren ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2019, 05:38 PM:

Seen on the side of a local business' SUV, advertising the services they offer:

Custom vinyl grapics

#99 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2019, 06:42 PM:

When I was a child, my hometown library was extensively renovated and the parking lot redone. The new sign in the lot read "Libarry Parking." (Needless to say, that sign was replaced within a few days...)

#100 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2019, 10:06 PM:

A couple of years into my grad work at Queen's U in Kingston, I noticed that when the student newspaper ran the ads for the candidates for Student Council President, every one of them had serious errors in basic grammar and/or spelling. I wrote a letter to the editor, pointing this out, and noting that the ads were sent in as camera-ready copy. The newspaper wasn't responsible for the errors; it was all on the candidates themselves. It was disappointing that the people who wanted to be representing the university had such universally poor literacy. (Queen's students have a rather overblown sense of pride.)

The newspaper ran my letter. With a bunch of typos added. So I wrote another letter to the editor about the typos they'd put in my previous letter complaining about typos.

They ran that one, too, with still more typos. So I wrote another letter complaining about the typos they'd put in my previous letter complaining about the typos in the first letter about the candidates' typos.

And so on. I don't recall how many iterations we went through. Four or five, I think.

#101 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2019, 10:36 AM:

Joel Polowin #100: I don't recall how many iterations we went through. Four or five, I think.

Before you realized they were taking the piss? ;-)

#102 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2019, 11:45 AM:

Dave Harmon @101 -- It's possible, though they continued to print my rather dry comments about how it reflected on their competence and/or literacy. I did my first couple of degrees at Carleton University, and didn't care for the Queen's students' snotty attitude regarding Carleton -- wholly unjustified, so far as I could see, having been a TA at both.

#103 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2019, 07:58 PM:

Dave 97: Years ago, I tried to use Google Maps mass transit/walking directions to find a location in Brooklyn. GM at the time assumed that subway stations were point locations on a map and had only one exit, which wouldn't have been so bad if they told you WHICH exit they decided was the real one, or where you'd be when you came out. No, they just said "exit the subway and go north on Blahblah street." It turned out, after a good deal of wandering around, that by coming out the largest entrance of the station I had put myself a good block from Blahblah street, on the other side of a huge building with no through access.

#104 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2019, 03:35 PM:

An online stress-management class I just took included the line "...look for ways to tone it back...".

I think they mean either 'tone it down' or 'dial it back'.

#105 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2019, 04:47 AM:

Re. error reports, I did once contact AA Routefinder here in the UK to inform them that they were recommending an illegal right hand turn close to where I live. They both responded by email AND corrected the error.

My stepmother's satnav once directed her to drive her horsebox (that's a fairly large vehicle (not a trailer), designed in this case to carry two horses, with an area for people to sit, and with storage space for tack, hay nets, water and so on)up an old packhorse trail that would have been tough going to RIDE a horse up!

#106 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2019, 06:17 AM:

Seen Elseweb: "a thermite infested apartment in Sicily"

#107 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2019, 12:25 PM:

eric @106: I would expect that to be a notably short-lived apartment!

#108 ::: Jim Parish ::: (view all by) ::: March 08, 2019, 12:28 PM:

eru, #106: Gives a whole new meaning to the word "exterminators".

#109 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2019, 02:34 AM:

eric, #106: Something worse than fire ants!

#110 ::: alisea ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2019, 10:29 AM:

also from elseweb:

"Sewing means lots of scraps and I hate to waist them"

#111 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2019, 02:30 PM:

"Trump's becoming more bazaar..."

Well, the marketplace of ideas, right?

#112 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2019, 05:57 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @ 43 (very belatedly): there's a line in the recorded At the Drop of a Hat about a bus sitting outside the theater with a sign in a window saying "Private" -- "I remember when it used to be a general."

Joel Polowin @ 95: I inherited a Garmin and added the traffic-report pickup; it has guided me out of some traffic jams, and into others. However, I don't know whether it's confused about when transit construction will close bridges in northern Somerville (MA), or just confused -- going south on the relevant road I was told to go straight on, but if I head north it wants me to zigzag (NE then NW) twice, for no obvious reason. I'll report this one if I'm every motivated to download the screenshots I took.

Jacque @ 96: Google was particularly confusticated a year or so ago, when a dangerous part of a major highway intersection was replaced with a safer elongated version; somehow (possibly user report that wasn't checked) they got that the old connection was gone but not that the new connection was open, so transfers that would have used it were taken several miles out of the way.

Dave Harmon @ 97: I wonder who gave Google that? Around here it won't even tell pedestrians to cut through parking lots.

All this said, I have to give Google props for mixed-mode transport; it found me the Boston-Plattsburgh best route, which included a ferry (also decent for Boston-Montreal).

#113 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2019, 07:41 PM:

Just saw "the solo survivor of the attack."

#114 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2019, 08:21 PM:

Xopher (113): Presumably the attack also had duet and trio survivors.

#115 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2019, 11:46 PM:

Solo survivor, ha! He shot first.

#116 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2019, 10:11 AM:

TomB: You win!

#117 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2019, 09:51 PM:

CHip #112: Back then, I don't think they were using Google. I suspect they were using a map where that interstitial space was marked as the equivalent of a blank green space -- that is, no known obstacles (note that none of the barriers would have shown on most maps), so the algorithm just told me to cut across wherever that minimized the total distance. Modern Google Maps does do better in general, but as others have noted, it still has a GIGO problem, and I suspect its algorithms are doomed to have at least some instability in them.

#118 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2019, 10:45 PM:

This is a major design floor.

#119 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2019, 11:02 PM:

It's a huge mosaic?

#120 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2019, 10:40 AM:

I know spam is so rife with these that it hardly counts, but I just got one asking for an "unguent respond." I laughed.

#121 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2019, 10:58 AM:

Mary Aileen @120, ha. Self-defining as a little slimy?

#122 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2019, 11:36 AM:

OtterB (121): That's what it looks like!

#123 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2019, 01:32 PM:

slime-mold marketing!

#124 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2019, 11:09 AM:

TFW the autocarrot is coming from inside your head:

"found a loan representative of [category]"

::HEAVY sigh::

#125 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2019, 12:55 PM:

Jacque (124): What's that supposed to be? I'm not seeing it.

#126 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2019, 02:41 PM:

Mary Aileen @125:

Are you borrowing money from [category], or do you see only one of that [category]?

#127 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2019, 04:20 PM:

Buddha Buck: Option B.

Mary Aileen: Yes! Denotational ambiguity! Yes, let's go with that. XD

#128 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2019, 04:21 PM:

Buddha Buck (126)/Jacque (127): Aha! I only thought of Option A. Thank you for clarifying that.

#129 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2019, 04:08 AM:

Denotational Ambiguity might be the name of my next band.

#130 ::: Rainflame ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2019, 02:53 PM:

"he was diluted into thinking..."

#131 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2019, 03:34 PM:

Rainflame (130): Well, that's one solution.

#132 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2019, 06:21 PM:

#130-131: Well, that's one solution.

Given the apparent intent, it's presumably the "solution which is simple, obvious, and wrong".

#133 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2019, 07:50 PM:

If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.

#134 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2019, 09:37 PM:

Perhaps "diluted into thinking" would provide a cure for homeopathy, if the thinking could just be diluted enough.

#135 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2019, 01:52 AM:

"He told a raptured audience"

Piles of clothes atop empty shoes...?

#136 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2019, 08:28 PM:

Not far from where I work, there's a gallery store for French furniture called RocheBobois. I walked by there today and in all their windows they had this copy advertising an upcoming sale:

May 9 to 19
alluring offers on all new collections

Okay, not a "dreadful phrase" as such, but thematically related.

#137 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2019, 10:32 PM:

well, it is eleven days, not ten....

#138 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2019, 01:48 PM:

somebody on the social media just called someone a "cooperate flunky" when they meant "corporate flunky"

Autocorrect or ignorance?

#139 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2019, 02:52 PM:

That depends -- was the person a Trump supporter?

#140 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2019, 02:42 PM:

Seen on a webpage from a very large provider of computing resources (and online bookstore), while enumerating the organizing principles of one of their services, they started the 2nd paragraph: "Of course, in keeping with our first tenant, ..."

#141 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2019, 05:57 PM:

Funnier if they'd said Tennant!

#142 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2019, 06:09 PM:

I remember "it is a major tenant of our religion..."

One of the people who said that was actually renting a room to a co-religionist, so he got out of that one!

#143 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2019, 06:13 PM:

I just saw, in a published novel, one character asking another how he's been doing, and get the answer "Fair to Midland."

This author really thinks that's what the phrase is. That's not a typo. That's not a simple error. He capitalized it! He's just never thought it through.

#144 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2019, 11:02 PM:

Any chance that that can be attributed to an error on the part of the character? I remember the stir that went through my grade-10 English class when the teacher told us that he wouldn't take marks off for poor grammar, foul language, etc. in dialogue, if it was appropriate for the characters to speak that way.

#145 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2019, 01:09 PM:

Even the New York Times is doing it: an article on state legislation that would have the effect of making Trump's state tax returns available to Congress was described as leading into "unchartered" territory. (The spellchecker on this website says that's not even a word.) This was reprinted in the Boston Globe, so in old days I'd have blamed a retypist; these days I'd assume the error is in the original, which would have been e-copied.

#146 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2019, 04:03 PM:

I wouldn't be terribly surprised to hear that Trump used unchartered accountants. Pillaging on the wide accountancy, etc.

The word appears in various dictionaries: lacking a charter, used to describe a person or object in areas where having a charter is usual.

#147 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2019, 05:59 PM:

Ah, the death of a maritime metaphor....

#148 ::: Singing Wren ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2019, 07:38 AM:

Joel Polowin: The Crimson Permanent Assurance?

#149 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2019, 09:56 AM:

I'm quite enjoying a shirt being described as "Undaunted in the back for a Better fit."

#150 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2019, 10:20 AM:

xeger #149 More of my clothing needs to be undaunted.

Is that supposed to be undarted?

#151 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2019, 01:22 PM:

OtterB @ 150:
Is that supposed to be undarted?

I'd normally expect it to be 'darted', rather than 'undarted' for better fit -- but apparently mileage is highly variable.

#152 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2019, 12:06 PM:

Found in a rather poorly-edited companion volume to a well-known Brit TV castle saga, this one sentence hits a trifecta:

"Although it can be tempting to laden plates with cakes, make it gentile and elegant, not coma inducing!"

Or, why copy editors are *really* a good idea.

Makes me worry about the goodness of the recipes. Guess I'll need to test and report back?

#153 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2019, 05:25 PM:

@joann, beware lest the cakes you taste-test induce a coma...

#154 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2019, 09:46 PM:

Someone else who needs a copy-editor:
"Memorial Day is America's Most Sacred Holiday" - OK, so where is the Commander and Chief?

#155 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2019, 10:18 PM:

OH GOD. Was having a lot of trouble with my joints a few months ago when strong recs for this went across Twitter, so I got it.

I don't recall issues with the English, particularly, but whoever published this had the idea that they were competent to format it themselves.

First three lines of a paragraph are ragged right. Rest of the paragraph is justified. Last line on the page (in the middle of a sentence) is a single or a couple orphan word(s). Lather, rinse, repeat. Text references exercises, refers you to an appendix. Which refers you to another chapter. Which refers you to yet aother chapter—I never did figure out the referencing system.

I think her content might be good...? But the book itself is nearly indecipherable.

#156 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2019, 03:22 AM:

Joel 144: Well, it was in dialogue. And the character isn't otherwise characterized as a malaprop. I think the mistake is the author's.

#157 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2019, 10:11 AM:

Heard in a meeting, " it up the totem pole..."

#158 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2019, 07:48 PM:

joann 152: am I missing something? I only see 2 errors, "laden" as an infinitive, and "gentile/genteel". What's the 3rd?

#159 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2019, 08:06 PM:

Jeremy Leader @158: "It", singular, seems to refer back to "plates", plural -- though it may refer to a statement in another sentence, which makes its usage problematic rather than necessarily wrong.

#160 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2019, 08:31 PM:

"It can be tempting" strikes me as a perfectly normal English.

#161 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2019, 01:52 AM:

The second "it", not the first one -- "make it gentile and elegant" -- is the "it" I was referring to. My bad for not disambiguating.

#162 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2019, 09:53 AM:

Tom Whitmore (161): Oh! I didn't even see that one. Yeah, that is problematic. I don't think it's referring to 'plates', but it's very hard to tell.

#163 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2019, 10:47 AM:

Jeremy Leader #158:

I was also including "coma inducing" instead of "coma-inducing". At least, when I leave off hyphens in places like that, every spell-checker on the planet goes ape.

#164 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2019, 08:31 PM:

Joel Polowin @ 146: I was thinking it might be a word, albeit old enough that simpleminded dictionaries wouldn't have it. My first thought on seeing it was a reference to the Charterless Zarathustra Corporation, but "unchartered" to me sounds like an initial failure rather than a loss.

#165 ::: Rainflame ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2019, 11:50 PM:

" trump syncopates like him don't listen to reason, logic, or actual facts"

#166 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2019, 02:04 AM:

Wow. Someone who knows enough to use "sycophants" but doesn't know enough to watch the spellchecker!

#167 ::: Angiportus Librarysaver ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2019, 10:16 AM:

Aaauggh. That gives syncopation a bad name.

#168 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2019, 01:56 AM:

Ya gotta wonder what their conversations are like that that's what their auto-carrot comes up with.

#169 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2019, 11:02 AM:

Seen on local neighborhood forum:

"Panda party supplies outside [address redacted]! There are 13 gift bags, 3 uninflected balloons."

So ... the balloons got bad grammar, or what?

#170 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2019, 01:00 PM:

The balloons were pre-owned and used at a "measles party", but have since been sterilized. But a spall-chucker didn't like "uninfected".

#171 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2019, 09:29 PM:

The other day I saw a box truck with the business name "Tire's Unlimited". (I'm not sure what kind of tire they actually sell.)

#172 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2019, 06:41 AM:

"Tire's Unlimited"

Little do you know that Seymour Tire sells backpacks, houseplants and fresh-baked pies! ;-)

#173 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2019, 09:00 PM:

featured at my office cafeteria: a sandwich served "w/ side of au jus"

#174 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2019, 10:13 PM:

Somewhere along the line, people seem to have decided that "au jus" is the name of a kind of gravy/sauce.

#175 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2019, 11:55 PM:

I saw a singer-songwriter in concert today and I think I heard one of the lines of his song had someone trying to "bonify" something, i e make it bona fide.

#176 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2019, 02:48 PM:

Erik: Heh. That's a construction I'd endorse. :)

#177 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2019, 09:59 AM:

I have a coworker who is the (entirely unconscious) absolute master of the malapropism. His latest:

"They hear 'audit' and they have negative condemtations."

#178 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2019, 01:07 PM:

Erik Nelson #175

A newspaper in Belize 30 years ago came up with the phrase "bonified customers." I was appalled for a moment before I got it.

#179 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2019, 01:56 PM:

Is a "bonified" customer bone-in, deboned, or bones put back in? Compare with "flammable" vs. "inflammable".

#180 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2019, 10:02 AM:

Joel Polowin #179:

In keeping with Ian Macdonald's "mellified man" (see _The Dervish House_) I'd say it meant wrapped in bones.

#181 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2019, 09:28 AM:

Joel Polowin #179:

Bones added, I'd say.

#182 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2019, 12:10 PM:

"He didn't give any collaborating evidence."


::bites tongue::

Not saying anything. Nothing at all.

#184 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2019, 10:22 PM:

whiskey with a wedge of lemon?

#185 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2019, 02:52 PM:

or with an attitude, cf a button I've seen: "H. H. Munro was a wry swine."

#186 ::: Terry Hunt ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2019, 06:55 PM:

Well-known British Fan Brian Ameringen habitually wears (or wore, if it's now worn out) a T-shirt with this slogan.

#187 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2019, 09:37 AM:

just won’t pass the mustard

We seem to have wandered into the Mad Hatter's tea party.

#188 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2019, 01:39 PM:

The shirt may have succeeded the button (it's been 14 years since I've seen either Brian or Caroline), or my memory may have been jumbled, but Brian is definitely who I saw wearing the text.

#189 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2019, 06:03 PM:

Fret level
(though that may have been a deliberate malapropism)

#190 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2019, 01:18 AM:

Seen on Tumblr: "smith and western pistol"

#191 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2019, 11:25 AM:

Spotted on CNN: "At issue: Giuliani's wild-eyed promotion of wildly debunked conspiracy theories about Biden and his son Hunter, who served on the board of a Ukrainian natural gas company."

(I think a hyphen between "wildly" and "debunked" would be more correct.)

#192 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: September 30, 2019, 10:09 PM:

Actually, according to most sources, phrasal adjectives beginning with an adverb in -ly are correctly left unhyphenated. I first encountered that in Mary Norris's memoir-cum-style guide, Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen and I have to confess it surprised me a bit. But everywhere else I've seen that addresses the topic agrees.

#193 ::: Devin ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2019, 02:32 AM:

Makes sense, if you think about it: "wildly" must modify "debunked" rather than theories, because "wildly conspiracy theories" is gibberish. So the hyphen isn't necessary.

#194 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2019, 11:28 AM:

Am I missing something? I think the issue is not the hyphen, but that the conspiracy theories are widely, not wildly, debunked.

#195 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2019, 12:19 PM:

Well, yes, of course that's what led Bill to post it here. But I thought that his closing parenthetical merited comment.

#196 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2019, 09:50 AM:

OtterB in #194: You are correct. I threw in the parenthetical remark about hyphenation as a distraction.

My 1949 copy of the Chicago A Manual of Style agrees with David in #192. Guess I'm still learning to write English.

#197 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2019, 10:01 AM:

Sorry for the pedantic digression. It wasn't intentional.

I would have thought to hyphenate it as Bill Higgins suggests and find it interesting that unhyphenated is correct. I suppose one hyphenates in a case where the meaning is ambiguous without the hyphen. I know I've seen them but I can't think of one at the moment.

#198 ::: Del Cotter ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2019, 05:24 AM:

The "still-vexed Bermoothes" I take to be vexed by stills, rather than still and vexed. I assume Shakespeare's talking about the Sargasso Sea.

#199 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2019, 10:10 PM:

So. last week I turned up a slim volume by Ambrose Bierce, titled "Write It Right: A Little Blacklist of Literary Faults". This is basically Mr. Bierce's list of pet peeves, circa 1909.

In his own preface, he does admit that the work is fundamentally a reflection of his own taste; my edition also has a newer introduction, which points out that Bierce had a serious distaste for American usage. (Indeed, in one entry he says flat out "this may be good American, but it is not good English").

Even given this, it's amusing to see how some of his entries had to have been quixotic pedantry even in his own time, while others represent fights that have since been won or lost. Throughout, his wry humor is entertaining.

An amusing juxtaposition demonstrates this -- in adjacent entries, he condemns:
1. "Sideburns" for "Burnsides" (noting that they are named for the Civil War general). Nowadays it's the canonical term.
2. "Side-hill" for "hillside", which I've never even seen used. Unless it remains as a Britishism or regionalism, I'd guess that one has indeed fallen out of use.
3. "Sideways" for "sidewise". He refers the entry to "endways" (for "endwise"), which in his time apparently was going the same way (the same wise? ;-) ). Curiously, nowadays (IMHO) "sidewise" looks archaic at best, but "endwise" still looks natural. Language development is weird.

#200 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2019, 12:47 PM:

Dave Harmon @199 - Well, there's the infamous Sidehill Gouger.

#201 ::: Rainflame ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2019, 11:21 PM:

One of the characters in Sometimes A Great Notion filled his freezer with "side-hill salmon", meaning deer taken out of season.

#202 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2019, 05:09 PM:

Joel Polowin #200, Rainflame #201: I note those are both regional references, which tends to make my point.

#203 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2019, 01:49 AM:

I was driving by my local movie theater and saw their marquee advertise the new film of "Downtown Abbey".

And the furniture store Roche Bobois near where I work is at it again: you may remember them having "Ten Days of Temptations" from May 9-19. Now they're having "Eight Exceptional Days" from October 12-20. (And no, I checked: their showroom is open seven days a week.)

#204 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2019, 10:50 AM:

David Goldfarb (203): That's nothing. The local Restaurant Week* lasts for more than two weeks: starts on a Friday, ends on the Sunday 2+ weeks later. I could forgive them for including two weekends in the "week", since that's when most people eat out, but a week that lasts more than a fortnight is a bit much.

*special deals at participating restaurants

#205 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2019, 04:58 PM:

This guy wrote that he and his childhood friends had "free reign of the neighborhood." Two mistakes in one WORD.

#206 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2019, 09:05 PM:

Ingenious People's Day

#207 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2019, 10:13 AM:

Erik #206:

Isn't that Hacker's Day? (old usage)

#208 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2019, 10:07 AM:

David Goldfarb #203: "Downtown Abbey"

They did a film about the Cloisters? ;-)

#209 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2019, 12:37 AM:

"They know they have a stronghold on the market in our area"

#210 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2019, 06:12 PM:

streamer trunk

#211 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 13, 2019, 07:16 PM:

The storage container for party supplies?

#212 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2019, 02:32 AM:

Maybe it is a trunk you can access anywhere, but you don't own it.

#213 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2019, 10:30 PM:

TomB #209: Okay, I just realized I can't tell: Was that a reply to mine, or a separate Dreadful Phrase? ;-)

#214 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2019, 10:44 PM:

#209 is unrelated. They probably meant "stranglehold".

A few years ago I composited a fanzine article that had some photos of the Cloisters. They were beautiful. If there is a film about the Cloisters, I would watch it.

#215 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2019, 08:21 AM:

TomB@214 They probably meant "stranglehold".

Either that or someone built a castle inside the local supermarket...

#216 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2019, 10:49 AM:

The interesting thing about #209 is that if they'd written 'strong hold', with the space, it would make sense; I agree that they probably meant 'stranglehold', however.

#217 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2019, 04:18 PM:

@203 -- doesn't everybody make fencepost errors now and then? (I wonder how many people would think it was a reverse error if the count were correct.)

@204: that probably expanded under the name; the ones I know of (Boston, Providence) used to be just a week, but were so successful that they ~doubled the length. (Just doubled IIRC -- they don't do Saturdays at all, so it's Sunday to next-but-one Friday.) IIARC, the name finally got changed to "Dine Out Xxx" after enough grammarians complained; maybe you should start a movement?

#218 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2019, 10:07 AM:

CHip @217: A restaurant anti-"math-acree" movement?

#219 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2019, 11:19 AM:

Probably some of the bad word-choices are people being careless with spellcheck: not that they didn't know the correct word, but they just accepted all of their software's suggestions without double-checking the accuracy.

This occurred to me yesterday when I realized that Chrome* doesn't recognize either 'fibromyalgia' or 'rheumatologist'. It suggested 'fibrillation' and 'hematologist', respectively.

*Firefox just recognized 'rheumatologist' but made the same error with 'fibromyalgia'.

#220 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2019, 12:44 PM:

"Auto-corrupt" isn't as useful as some people think.

#221 ::: Mary Aileen is visiting the gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2019, 12:54 PM:

I've been gnomed! I can offer an orange Life Saver if that will help.

#222 ::: Rainflame ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2019, 09:44 PM:

"the national guard was called in to prevent luters"

#223 ::: Jen Birren ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2019, 06:38 AM:

Are there any RPG players who find that the idea of a plucky band of luters resonates with them?
(I wouldn't want to string you along to approving of viol-ence, I'll guitarta here.)


#224 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2019, 06:59 PM:

"point black assertion"

Is this a negative assertion?

#225 ::: Pfusand ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2019, 11:06 AM:

“There are more smoking guns in this sorted tale than in an NRA Firing Range.”

Um, well, it hasn't been fully sorted yet.

#226 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2019, 11:38 AM:

Reminds me of that horrid joke title:

"Sordid & Stoned: The Seamy Side of Camelot"

#227 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 20, 2019, 05:05 PM:

Semitruck. A truck divided into two cargo sections is a semi truck. A semitruck is half a truck.

"No, Xopher, that's a hemitruck. A semitruck is half a quarter note."

"No, that's a semiquaver. A semitruck is..."

#228 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2019, 12:37 PM:

"Your exclusive discount code is weighting"

#229 ::: Rainflame ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2019, 10:19 PM:

In recent posts by FB friends:
ice-cycle (for icicle)
it's self (for itself)

#230 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2019, 02:31 PM:

"it feels like you're lost in the maize"

The corn maze?

#231 ::: Melissa Mead ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2019, 09:58 PM:

"Looks like snow is whining down."

Hey, if wind can whistle...

#232 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2019, 04:22 PM:

Just saw "the bookshop is in dire straights."

Given that it's a gay romance, maybe. But I think it's just a mistake.

#233 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2019, 04:23 PM:

Dire straights are the guys who go around looking for gays to beat up?

#234 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2019, 08:08 PM:

Gary K. Wolfe edited American Science Fiction: Eight Classic Novels of the 1960s now out from the prestigious Library of America. In reviewing this collection, Paul Di Filippo turns to Poul Anderson's The Last Crusade:

While it checks off many of Campbell’s crochets—the unique superiority of humans; contrarian political stances such as the advantages of feudalism—it does so in a rather perfunctory, non-dogmatic manner.

Could be a mere typo, I suppose. Mr. Di Filippo's vocabulary outruns mine (I had to look up "detournements" and "psychopomp" just to get through this review).

#235 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 11, 2019, 10:28 PM:

In this sense, it's usually spelled "crotchet", so I'll go with typo. (Or someone who thought that "crotchet" wasn't correct and "fixed" it.)

#236 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2019, 04:54 PM:

'...he does not want to cast dispersion on someone with a drug problem'.

#237 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2019, 08:44 AM:

P J Evans @ 235: Wolfe should have been able to overrule whatever contract copyeditor came up with such a "fix" -- but I don't know enough about today's publishing to guess whether he was given enough time to review the edit, or whether it was even clearly marked up. (Or whether he fixed the "correction", which then got unfixed in a version-control mess, as NESFA once managed to do -- to TNH's distress.) TNH laid out very clear rules for marks in the blue-pencil era; can anyone here tell us how markup is shown when most text is electrons rather than marks on paper?

#238 ::: Jim Parish ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2019, 09:28 PM:

CHip @ 237: I frequently give take-home tests in my classes, and I allow electronic submissions, in .pdf or Word formats. In the former case, I use the commenting feature - electronic post-its, as it were. This isn't quite copy editing, but perhaps it is similar enough, I suppose.

#239 ::: Angiportus Librarysaver ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2019, 10:04 PM:

I was writing to someone about some other people showing off their erudition, and my dictation program made it "air addition". Sometimes these changes are more apt than expected.

#240 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2019, 11:22 AM:

Jim Parish @ 238: I know markup tools exist; I was subjected to one form of them while trying to persuade some nitpickers in the Sasquan executive to work with the decorator spec that had been used in the past. But I don't know whether copyeditors use such tools, or just make the changes. There are also tools for comparing files (to find changes that haven't been annotated), but I don't know whether there's anything user-friendly enough to be usable. (I'd brute-force the question with an assortment of UNIX tools, but I worked with UNIX for a few decades and like simple tools that I can apply one-at-a-time so I can know what the results mean.)

#241 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2019, 03:15 PM:

Word has a feature like that, also. It's under "review".

#242 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2019, 10:27 AM:

CHip #240:

When spouse and I were doing a book for Large Well-Known Computer Book Publisher, we traded marked-up PDFs with the copyeditor, using change tracking within Acrobat.

#243 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2019, 10:51 AM:

Describing a near miss on the highway: "I had the right away."

#244 ::: Jim Parish ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2019, 11:57 AM:

Allan #243: No doubt this is a phobia about tardiness.

#245 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2019, 02:38 PM:

CHip, in #237, when you write:

Wolfe should have been able to overrule whatever contract copyeditor came up with such a "fix..."

I presume instead of "Wolfe" you mean the author of the review I was quoting, Paul Di Filippo; Gary K. Wolfe is the editor of the books PDiF is reviewing, and is not responsible.

#246 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2019, 09:23 PM:

air addition - putting on airs?

#247 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2019, 09:25 PM:

I meant #239 - (comment by Angiportus "erudition" -sorry

#248 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2019, 06:08 PM:

Allah cart. As in "He ordered Allah cart."

Presumably, it's the cart with the halal food.

#249 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2019, 08:26 PM:

"He ticks all the buckets."

#250 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2019, 08:42 PM:

HelenS (249): Better than kicking all the buckets, I suppose.

#251 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2019, 03:01 PM:

Bill Higgins @ 245: this is me failing reading comprehension -- and I used to be so good with those little booklets....

I still whether an editor made the error or just left it in.

#252 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2019, 06:54 PM:

"I have a rash over the top part of my diagram."

#253 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2019, 03:21 PM:

Allan Beatty #252: They must have run out of paper!

#254 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2020, 08:12 PM:

From the Secret Service's "Know Your Money" guide, right up front:

U.S. currency paper consists of 25% linen and 75% cotton and contains small randomly disbursed red and blue security fibers embedded throughout the paper.

I suspect a semantic collision, as "disbursed" does at least apply to money. It should of course be "dispersed".

#255 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2020, 06:05 PM:

Dave: The ATM out front has instructions for how to get a deposit envelope "disbursed." By which of course they mean "dispensed."

#256 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2020, 05:51 PM:

I don't think it's exactly a dreadful phrase, but someone needs to do some research:
"knight Lady Hotspur finds herself torn between love and her beliefs as the fate of her kingdom hangs in the balance" (book blurb, seen online, and no, I'm not interested)

#257 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2020, 01:23 PM:

Just saw "I understand and emphasize." I suspect arty carrot.

#258 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2020, 07:54 PM:

"In lieu of recent events—"

Pro author, too. Otto Carrot, we hope?

#259 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2020, 01:25 PM:

"swine vehicular disease" - which pre-dated the invention of the auto-carrot since it was in a local newspaper still using the Linotype machine for composing. (A recent search by moose for this typo turned it up in an EU document from 1994 that appears to have been autocarroted back to 'vesicular' when pdf'd (or maybe vice versa and the pdf OCR process caused the error.) Still amusing though, a specific disease that only pig lorries can contract?

#260 ::: Pfusand ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2020, 01:39 PM:

Nope. It's car sickness in pigs.

#261 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2020, 03:43 PM:

My brain was trying to relate it to swine flu. But that would be porcine aviation disorder.

#262 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2020, 04:24 PM:

I suspect that OCR did it - I worked for a while checking and correcting OCR'd docs, and some of the errors were amusing (turning "legal obligation" into "lethal obligation", as an example).

#263 ::: Devin ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2020, 05:25 PM:

P J Evans @ 262

Sometimes, both are correct.

#264 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2020, 07:55 PM:

Seen on Twitter: "we've all but irradiated these diseases because of vaccines"

#265 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2020, 07:59 PM:

OCR is the mortal enemy of anyone whose last name is Fuchs.

#266 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2020, 07:05 AM:

A common OCR error IME is interpreting 'd' as 'cl' or vice versa, turning 'dip' into 'clip' and similar things that will pass the spell checker.

This moose has just realised that it's entirely possible that 'You can hear the sound of the chickens ducking." under certain circumstances.

Thanks to Pfusand and Mary Aileen for the travel related variations of SVD, too.

#267 ::: Pfusand ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2020, 07:35 AM:

Ah, Cadbury Moose. You remind me of the time, in dim light, I caught the OCR error of "hips" rather than "lips," in "she licked her hips." She was an alien, but not in that alien a shape.

#268 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2020, 11:33 AM:

At the same OCR-checking job, I saw "District" scrambled into "Omelet". ("Lethal obligation" was in a section about DC bonds.)

#269 ::: Jim Parish ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2020, 07:29 PM:

I was reading an OCR'd collection of Chinese folk tales. The OCR usually (but not always) transcribed "R" as "E". As a mathematician, I was delighted by the repeated references to "the Euler of Heaven".

#270 ::: Jim Parish ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2020, 07:29 PM:

I was reading an OCR'd collection of Chinese folk tales. The OCR usually (but not always) transcribed "R" as "E". As a mathematician, I was delighted by the repeated references to "the Euler of Heaven".

#271 ::: Jim Parish ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2020, 07:33 PM:

Sorry for the double; I was too impatient to wait out the posting.

#272 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2020, 07:28 PM:

I'm sure this was autocorrect, but it's too good not to share: "A technical companion to this paper contains the complete mythological details."

#273 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2020, 10:43 AM:

Allan Beatty @272, too good not to share indeed. Unintended truth in publication, perhaps?

#274 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2020, 11:17 PM:

Jim Parish @ 269: I remember being delighted to find Euler on Swiss currency when I went to Confiction; it was nice not only as a change from heroes and politicos, but also as a tie-in as I'd just finished a course on discrete math that covered graph theory from the Königsberg bridges forward. As a former chemist, I was also pleased to find myself in Berzelius Square when I went to pick mail in Stockholm a couple of weeks later.

#275 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2020, 02:17 PM:

"Shutter Island is a beautiful and eerie creation that encapsulated audiences in 2010 and then seemingly dropped off of the map."

#276 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2020, 03:08 PM:

Xopher @275. So, the audiences haven't been heard from since 2010?

#277 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2020, 03:17 PM:

OtterB (276): And the island is no longer showing on maps, either.

#278 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2020, 03:48 PM:

Fortunately, the audiences were protected in a safety capsule when they fell off the map.

#279 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2020, 10:35 PM:

click here
flickering lights

#280 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2020, 03:05 PM:

Well, yeah, if the audiences were encapsulated, and word got out, it's clear why people stopped going to see the movie. When people settle down for a nice movie watch, they don't want their cheeks pierc to be squashed into a capsule!

#281 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2020, 03:17 PM:

"The queen was born April, 21 1926. At the age of 25 she became queen, and was coronated on June 2, 1953, only 16 years after her father’s coronation."

Good gods. CROWNED, dammit. Coronated sounds like it means "endow with a corona."

And if you want to invocate some archaic rule to justificate this back-formation, crucifict me now.

#282 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2020, 03:23 PM:

"Coronated" sounds like having indulged in a particular kind of beer-binge. As in, "Let's go down to the bar and Coronated. Hope they don't run out of limes!"

#283 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2020, 05:52 PM:

I ran across "coronated" in a fantasy I otherwise liked a lot. Don't remember which one. I noticed because I stubbed my mental toe on it.

#284 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2020, 06:48 PM:

I think they're doing a back-formation from "coronation", but dammit, they should be able to use a dictionary. It also isn't like they've never heard of people being crowned.

#285 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2020, 06:50 PM:

also, since I keep using the wrong email address, imma gonna change it.

#286 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2020, 06:50 PM:

also, since I keep using the wrong email address, imma gonna change it.
(intentional duplicate)

#287 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2020, 03:13 PM:

@284: like "use" vs "utilize." The latter sounds fancier.

I remember Edward James Olmos once talking about people being "poorly nutritioned," when what he meant was "poorly nourished." I'll grant the possibility that he wanted to put a little extra emphasis on the concept, but ::flinch::

#288 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2020, 11:43 AM:

"corn colonels" :)

#289 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2020, 12:57 PM:

estelendur (288): That took me a minute to parse!

#290 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2020, 02:14 PM:

Especially since I first read it as "corn colonials".

#291 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2020, 02:47 PM:

Jacque (290): I tried to read it as a mistake for 'colonials' before I got to the pronunciation confusion. And that was after I tried to figure out what kind of colonels there were that might get mistaken for/mistyped as 'corn'.

#292 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2020, 10:54 PM:

The story lines were unaspiring [from a clickbait article about a TV show]

#293 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2020, 03:20 PM:

Xopher @ 281 (and following): I have a vague memory of "crown(vt)" meaning "strike someone on the head", but doesn't support this, and where the intransitive form (wrt birth) is intended should be clear from context, so I also don't see how it can be right. ISTM that the insertion/backformation of a surplus "at" is becoming common, if not outright accepted; cf "orientating" (which I've seen even on the BBC!), but "coronating" is unusually ugly even if it looks like regularizing an odd bit of English.

#294 ::: dana ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2020, 04:43 PM:

Have recently seen a mention of a "badmitten racket." Some sort of scam involving inferior hand coverings?

#295 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2020, 05:21 PM:

That's a good one.

Stairstep (literally) addition to my previous: "preventative". I was going to flame about this, but the mid-century OED I inherited says it's almost as old as "preventive" (1654 vs ?1629?); I don't recall hearing it when I was younger and the OED and other dead-tree dictionaries (and refer seekers to "preventive", but it seems to be becoming common. I wonder whether there's some sort of meme that the more complicated word must be more correct.

#296 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2020, 07:42 PM:

A sheriff's department just issued an emergency alert on Twitter saying "A large boulder the size of a small boulder" was blocking a highway

#297 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2020, 09:38 PM:

I've met that one - it was certainly around when I was a kid! (If you crowned someone in that sense, you had hit them in or on the head.)
It's in my American Heritage College Dictionary, as the last entry for the verb, marked as "informal".

#298 ::: Jim Parish ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2020, 05:25 AM:

CHip @ 297: I have a distinct memory of a '60s cartoon in which Snagglepuss (or was it Snaggletooth? Can't tell them apart), confronted with a caged lion - the cage had a sign saying "King of the Beasts" - said "King, eh? Well," (he pulled a hammer out of hammerspace) "I'm crownin' ya!" (thwack, stars and birdies, improbably large lump).

#299 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2020, 09:59 AM:

CHip @295: Huh, I've actually never encountered "preventive" before. *is young'un*

#300 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2020, 01:29 PM:

CHip 293: I've definitely seen 'crown' used to mean "strike on [the top of] the head," but not in several decades, now that you mention it. 'Orientated' appears to be standard British usage at this point, as far as I can tell.

#301 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2020, 03:08 PM:

Orientated: Sometime in the last couple of years, I've heard (possibly here?) that "orientated" has a particular meaning, in that it's specifically, "oriented wrt North," where as "oriented" is just your general, non-specific orientation in whatever the relevant contextual refrerence frame is. Can't speak to any actual veracity of this claim.

#302 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2020, 03:35 PM:

Since I'm from the west, I'm more likely to occidentate than orientate.

#303 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2020, 03:37 PM:

But only occidentally, of course.

#304 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2020, 04:12 PM:

CHip @295, estelendur @ 299:

When I say the two words to myself, what comes to mind is that "preventive" is an adjective, as in "He took preventive measures", while "preventative" has more of a nouny flavor. I feel I might say "She was worried about 2019-nCor, so she took an antiviral and wore a facemask as a preventative.". Even both as adjectives, there are some places where one feels more right than the other.

#305 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2020, 06:53 PM:

"Orient" goes back to when the primary direction on maps was east, toward Jerusalem. It got verbed from that.
I don't know when "orientate" became a verb, but AFAICT it's another back-formation, from "orientation".
(And "orient" goes back to Latin "orior", to rise - as in rising sun.)

#306 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 28, 2020, 07:55 PM:

P J Evans: omg of course. That makes total sense.

#307 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2020, 05:17 PM:

I'll admit to having to look up the Latin source - I was expecting an -are verb, truthfully.

#308 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 29, 2020, 06:22 PM:

P J Evans (307): Pity it wasn't 'orientare', as in We Three Kings.

#309 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2020, 09:08 AM:

Jacque @ 301: I think I've seen "orientated" used in the more general sense (e.g., followed by "toward"); now I'll have to watch for uses.

Buddha Buck @ 304: that seems plausible -- but I'm pretty sure I've seen "preventative" used as an adjective (e.g., attached to "medicine" or "measures").

Several of you don't owe me a new laptop, but only because I don't drink near mine.

And today's irritation (from NPR, which ought to know better): Mexico's president is gearing up for a national raffle. The prize? The presidential plane. It's like Mexico's Air Force One, but the president refuses to step foot in it. I've seen hand dancing ("jiving" in Grease, and not named in The Cocoanuts, but what other than a foot can you step with?

#310 ::: Jim Parish ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2020, 01:02 PM:

CHip @ 309: what other than a foot can you step with?

A paw? A peg leg? Perhaps even flippers count, for pinnipeds.

#311 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2020, 03:14 PM:

I've seen "hand jive" used to describe some newer signs in ASL.

#312 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2020, 11:46 AM:

Hand Jive is also the name of a drum rhythm that you've heard and would recognize.

#313 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2020, 02:50 PM:

"to step foot in" is a common phrase that I've heard my whole life; it may be redundant, but it's entrenched in the language.

#314 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 03, 2020, 07:39 PM:

Cassy B. (313): I would have said that 'set foot in' is more common, but 'step foot in' doesn't sound terribly wrong to me.

#315 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2020, 08:25 PM:

@309, @313, @314,

According to Google nGram, the prevalence of "step foot in" jumped by a factor of 10 between 1980 and 2005, but that just meant that "set foot in" went from 200 times as prevalent to just 25 times as prevalent. nGram charts

That matches my gut feeling, that "step foot in" didn't sound wrong, but "set foot in" sounds much more right.

#316 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2020, 10:14 AM:

Buddha Buck #315:

Of course there are some instances in which "step *your* foot in" make a lot more sense than "set". Closely related to how many lazy dog-walkers there have been recently on a sidewalk near you.

I think some of what's going on here has to do with whether the foot got there by accident or on purpose.

#317 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2020, 11:36 AM:

I never heard "step foot in" until the 90s, possibly later. It was always "set foot in," with the meaning "minimally visit." "The Romans never set foot in Ireland" means they didn't so much as send a little excursion, much less establish a base.*

*Please, it's only a sample sentence.

#318 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2020, 01:36 PM:



Sadly, not out of character for the speaker.

#319 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: February 06, 2020, 05:45 PM:

Xopher Halftongue @ 317: I don't remember ever hearing/reading "step foot in" in the sense you describe (and the story intended); now I'll have to attend more closely to see whether I run into it again.

#320 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2020, 08:08 AM:

"The only full proof way..."

#321 ::: Cheryl ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2020, 02:28 PM:

Not a drive by, honest, although I haven't posted in yonks...

I don't have a specific quote, but I seem to be seeing this all over the place lately: "weary" in place of either "leery" or "wary". I guess it makes a kind of sense; stick the two together and that's what you end up with. Only, how is it getting past the copy editors/proofreaders? Because I'm seeing it in published books, not just blog posts, etc.

Example: "I'm weary of walking through the alley at night".

#322 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2020, 03:51 PM:

Saw a post about somebody's workplace not charging them PTO for coronavirus-quarantine-related work absence due to the "extortionary circumstances." :)

#323 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: February 07, 2020, 04:31 PM:

Cheryl @321. I am sometimes a lector at my Catholic church, which means I read some of the scriptures of the day and read a typed set of "Prayers of the Faithful." My usual practice was to skim over the Prayers of the Faithful before mass to make sure I knew how to pronounce the name of anyone we were praying for, but not bother to pre-read the other prayers since they were normally straightforward. Until the day I read aloud the typo that asked for the grace to pray always without growing wary. It should, of course, have been weary. I made the mental correction too late and barely avoided a fit of the giggles in the middle of the service in front of several hundred people. Ever since then, I have carefully preread all the prayers.

#324 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2020, 08:42 AM:

From NPR's Doctors Push Back As Congress Takes Aim At Surprise Medical Bills

The ads prompted a bipartisan probe from Walden and committee Chairman Frank Pallone, D-N.J., into how the companies have influenced surprise billing practices.
"I'm not trying to hurtle a rock at them, but they've been throwing a few my way," he said.

#325 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2020, 12:35 PM:

Re: surprise medical bills --

This exact thing happened to my family, a few years ago. My husband had his gall bladder out. The hospital was an in-group hospital, the doctor was an in-group doctor. We got a bill from an assistant surgeon that my husband had never met, hadn't authorized, and didn't even know was involved, who was NOT in-group, and our insurance wouldn't pay him. It was a major hassle to get that resolved. If my husband wasn't very, very good at arguing, and very persistent, it would have cost us a great deal of money.

Health care in the US is broken.

#326 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2020, 03:21 PM:

Why are so few people pointing out that a single-payer system eliminates these surprise medical bills, which are a feature of the current health insurance marketplace?

#327 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2020, 05:13 PM:

it probably hasn't happened to them - yet - or possibly they don't think it will happen to them.

#328 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2020, 08:08 PM:

I think "hurtle" -- cause to move at great speed -- might work. Not as well as "hurl", and better than the correction I thought of, "hurdle".

#329 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2020, 09:11 AM:

This is more like usage drift than a single dreadful phrase, but it's still a sore point: when did "$<number> dollars" become common? (I don't read any other languages well enough to know whether this is used for other currencies; I don't think the BBC uses it for pounds but I wouldn't swear they don't.) Is there any pattern to this tautology?

This fit of cane-stomping and foot-waving brought to you by an NPR story that uses both this form and $<number> without the added "dollars"

#330 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2020, 07:52 PM:

Argh, that reminds me of when I was a kid and we made our own play money (on the backs of computer punch cards) and one of my friends kept writing 5$.

#331 ::: Tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2020, 10:32 AM:

From someone whose heart was in the right place, but maybe not educated to phd level. (Explaining what to do when someone, a woman in this case, rides their horse at you aggressively while you are interfering with their perceived right to hunt, torture and kill wildlife, specicifically vulpes vulpes.)

"Told you guys before , grab a hold of the horses bit and with the other hand pull the buckle on the rain, doit good enough an itll come loose.. she wont be so iron mighty then !!"

I like "iron mighty." It suits the person shown in the photograph (which I won't show to protect the innocent parties involved).

#332 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2020, 05:27 PM:

I never would have thought of trying to detach the rein to curb a rider's aggression. Next time someone's trying to ride me down I may try it.

This will probably not happen in this lifetime, however. No tradition of fox hunting here.

(Story idea: former employees of Fox news hunted for sport by the oligarchs they benefited.)

#333 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: February 20, 2020, 07:32 PM:

Xopher at 332: The Most Dangerous Game?

#334 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2020, 02:44 PM:

Eric 333: Yeah, but with more "Why are you doing this? I've always done your bidding" and "Do you think you matter to me as much as an insect? Run, boy, run!"

#335 ::: Devin ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2020, 05:23 PM:

I have to admit that the idea of snatching at the face of one innocent animal and wrenching something from their mouth in order to protect another seems a touch... off.

I trust the intent wasn't to harm or even alarm the horse, but I can see a LOT of ways for that to go wrong.

#336 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2020, 09:14 AM:

There's a more basic issue with the "snatch at the rein" thing: You've got a very large animal miving toward you at speed, and your response is supposed to be grabbing something off its face/out of its mouth? Never mind that even with its mouth full of bit, the horse can kick, or just trample you!

I'm sorry, if somebody's riding a horse at me, my natural response is going to be "get the f*ck out of the way!"

#337 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2020, 11:18 AM:

What I understand is, you grab the bridle from the side and pull the horses' head down.

Still not something I'd want to do, even if the horse is just trotting.

#338 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2020, 02:30 PM:

Devin 335: I thought the idea was to grab both the bit and the rein, and try to unfasten the one from the other. Seems like you couldn't do it easily on the fly, but at least the purpose is not to jerk the bit from the mouth, but to unhook the rein so the rider no longer has that form of control.

A Jason Bourne move for sure, though, now that I think of it.

BUT: I would try it if the rider was trying to trample me, and I didn't have something sharp to stick in the rider's thigh.

#339 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2020, 02:40 PM:

Only after trying to run away sideways, I hasten to add. If forced to fight with a person on horseback, try to undo the rider's control of the horse, then try to injure the rider.

#340 ::: Devin ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2020, 06:03 PM:

Oh, sure, if your life is on the line then going for the bridle is absolutely a smart play. But my reading of this situation was not so much "fox hunter attempts vehicular-ish homicide" but more "fox hunter plays chicken with protester."

If getting actually ridden down was a basic hazard of fox-hunt protests, I would expect the concern to be less with the iron-mighty attitudes of hunters and more things like "where can we get some pikes?"

#341 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2020, 11:20 AM:

I for one would argue against iron pikes on the grounds that hurting the horses is not the goal, and in fact should be avoided at all costs. Someone who's willing to use a horse to attack a person on foot doesn't care about the horse, but that's no reason I shouldn't.

Pepper-spraying the hunters might be a good move though.

#342 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2020, 01:54 PM:

“From a size standpoint, 1,400 feet of vertical is nothing to shake a stick at,” said James Hamilton, co-founder of the marketing firm that has been handling Tenney’s public relations strategy in its latest renaissance. I'm glad to hear a ski mountain was revived, but shouldn't a PR person have a better grasp of idiom -- or know when they don't?

#343 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2020, 02:03 PM:

@341: pikes with boxing gloves on the ends! Plant the back end and aim at the rider rather than the horse. You'd need a real pike-length shaft (18'? something suitable for the multiple ranks of a phalanx) rather than just a single-combat-style spear, and maybe some fancy footwork, but think of the YouTube videos!

#344 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2020, 10:50 AM:

@343: I think the boxing glove needs to be on a spring.

#345 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2020, 02:00 PM:

@344, I think Acme might sell pikes with boxing gloves on springs, if the Coyote hasn't already bought out their stock... <grin>

#346 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2020, 03:57 PM:

I think the fox's head should be a fox mask over a boxing glove on a spring.

#347 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2020, 05:27 PM:

Note: the reins often attach to the bit by a slit in the rein that goes over a short T-piece and pulls into place - so if you know what you're doing you can pull it out and detatch the rein from the bit quite easily.

#348 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2020, 01:12 AM:

"That last one certainly put a hamper on Bloomberg."

#349 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2020, 09:44 AM:

The was a deliberate mistake, not seen in the wild, but it's too good not to share: star-craving mad.

I think that would describe a celebrity stalker.

#350 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2020, 04:42 PM:

dcb 347: Good to know. Sounds like you could do it without hurting the horse...but that you should practice it if you expect the goddam foxhunting toffs to try to ride you down.

#351 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2020, 07:19 PM:

"... it seems ingenious to fake enthusiasm as I'm walking gifts over to the closet." I'd certainly never have thought of it!

(I'm pretty sure they meant "ingenuous.")

#352 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: February 29, 2020, 04:52 PM:

Tom Whitmore #351: In fact, I'd hope they meant "disingenuous".

#353 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: February 29, 2020, 09:47 PM:

True, Dave.

And online today in an article on the novel coronavirus and CoViD-19, The Wall Street Journal said that "People can protect themselves and their communities by taking steps such as frequent handwashing, avoiding contact with people who are sick and staying home if they develop systems."

Applications programmmers, however, should continue to go to work?

#354 ::: Angiportus Librarysaver ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2020, 04:58 PM:

"Star-craving mad" is a good description of me in my teens, when I was trapped in a remote area where neither good astronomy books nor clear skies were common.

#355 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2020, 02:07 PM:

"The younger generations out there are ready to take the reigns."

I'm so tired of that one. In both directions.

#356 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2020, 07:15 PM:

That one, and "towing the line". They may also have to "sew what they reap."

#357 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2020, 04:42 PM:

They may also have to rip what they sew. And then resew. And then rerip.

#358 ::: Singing Wren ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2020, 07:08 PM:

Also known as "frogging": Rip it, rip it, rip it...

#359 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2020, 08:30 PM:

As opposed to tinking - taking it out one stitch at a time, unknitting it in reverse order.

#360 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2020, 11:58 AM:

Met a non-native speaker who is apparently unaware that 'gateway' and 'getaway' are different words. Not sure what, if anything, I can do. I can't think of way of explaining it without being rude.

#361 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2020, 10:23 AM:

Just saw 'bear minimum' again.

Did we agree that Bear Minimum is Ursa Minor, and Ursa Major is Bear Maximum?

#362 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2020, 11:58 AM:

Xopher (361): Sounds right to me.

#363 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2020, 12:05 PM:

The “bear minimum” is where the market is heading.

#364 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: March 09, 2020, 01:48 PM:

Now I've been earwormed by the old Jungle Book movie with Baloo singing "Look for the bare necessities..."

#365 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2020, 05:23 PM:

"death of the birds was caused by the birds striking the tarmac or the nearby bushes, and probably consistent with the birds avoiding either severe weather or a rapture of the area."

... I know what was meant, but it took me a moment!

#366 ::: Del Cotter ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2020, 07:44 AM:

"they had to make due with what they had"

A lot of these are the result of lost vowel distinctions: do/due, not/naught, Harry/hairy. Once they're gone from your speech, it takes a strong connection to the community of the written word to avoid them disappearing from your spelling too.

#367 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2020, 12:15 PM:

dcb @365: Well, if the birds were good birds and their souls were abruptly yanked up to Heaven, that would do it too.

#368 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2020, 01:37 PM:

"This level of telecommuting is unchartered territory."

#369 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2020, 02:06 PM:

Joel Polowin @367: a very localised rapture!

#370 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2020, 08:22 PM:

dcb #369: Modified rapture!

#371 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2020, 10:22 PM:

Or, if it were a small-enough group of birds: By sections of threes: rapture!

#372 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2020, 11:39 PM:

One can think of the Rapture as a kind of harvest: God consuming those human-cattle who have followed his rules about what is healthy for mind and body, so that they will be most tasty when eaten. Sort of like "To Serve Man" with a religious component....

#373 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2020, 01:51 AM:

Seen in too many places: "Corvid-19", which is presumably something like a bird flu. The W'pedia page for "Corvid" redirects to "Corvidae", which now has a "if you're looking for info about the virus, you need to go *here*" redirect-y thing.

Also "carona virus". Teeny vehicles for driving on diseases?

#374 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2020, 11:03 AM:

Not especially apropos, but I just saw "pumpkin-sized" from a writer who's usually better than that. (Pumpkins, of course, range from fist-sized varieties to giants weighing over a ton.)

#375 ::: Pfusand ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2020, 11:03 AM:

Ah, you're thinking of the Corolla, right?

#376 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2020, 12:01 PM:

No, that's the Corona. Which, while common, was not viral.

#377 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2020, 12:30 PM:

I was thinking "car on a virus", but the Corolla works too.

#378 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2020, 07:28 PM:

Tom Whitmore @ 372: What a wonderful metaphor! One could even treat being Born Again as analogous to the way meat animals are shifted from fish meal (highly convertible to meat) to grain, to leach out any residual taste. I vaguely recall a Pohl/Kornbluth novel (Wolfbane?) that had a similar approach to ~mysticism, but that was as close as they dared to confronting popular isms.

#379 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2020, 06:23 PM:

"The White Flag has Been Waived... We Surrender...Now Closed!"

#380 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2020, 08:32 PM:

Well, they didn't have to present an actual white flag, did they? It must have been waived.

#381 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2020, 03:24 PM:

When the lofty Ieu Eun physicists discover that fully half of Anarresti scientists are women, and moreover that the respected physicist Gvarab is a woman, they balk, chock it up to cultural differences, and change the subject. I guess you could say they had mental blocks. Unfortunately, this is from the reread of Le Guin.

#382 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2020, 04:13 PM:

Oxford comma dilemma:

Just started The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers (which, twelve pages in, I think I'm going to actually buy), and the dedication reads:

For my family, hatch and feather

So here's my question: is her family comprised of hatch and feather? Or are they in addition to her family?? ::ambiguity wail!::

#383 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2020, 07:13 PM:

@Jacque, from the context of what I remember from the book, I'd say that you should probably read it as "for my family, both hatch and feather."

Birth family and found family.

#384 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: March 22, 2020, 09:24 PM:

I guess “down the hatch” could mean something very different to an ornithologist than to a sailor. And then there are those into fly fishing.

#385 ::: Pfusand ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2020, 12:18 PM:

"[N]o one is going to go out and be around others in close prolixity ..."

... except for the associates of Trump.

#386 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2020, 05:02 PM:

My office is having a major renovation, including creating some "huddle spaces" for small group meetings. One of my coworkers just forwarded a message about the white boards in the new "cuddle" space. Pretty sure you're not supposed to do that at work, even without a pandemic.

#387 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2020, 06:53 PM:

Seen at Kobo:
Winner of the 1980 Locus Pole Award for Best Novella

#388 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: March 24, 2020, 11:06 AM:

Seen in a book of face posting about whether you have to show symptoms: "Rand Paul was asymptotic". Well, he certainly causes my blood pressure to do that ...

#389 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: March 25, 2020, 04:46 PM:

@385, @388: nice shots!

#390 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2020, 05:01 PM:

"a gray chili day"

Hm. Yes. Good day for a pot of chilly. : )

#391 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2020, 11:40 AM:

Not really a Dreadful Phrase in our usual sense, but when I was texting with Mom she came out with a fearsome auto-co-wreck: "Mother is in the posit cowboy your name supply". I have no idea what she was trying to write.

#392 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2020, 12:38 PM:

Just seen in the wild: "will leave [people] clambering for access"

#393 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2020, 08:10 PM:

Mary Aileen #392: "will leave [people] clambering for access"

Because someone pulled up the ladder after them-self?

#394 ::: Jen Birren ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2020, 01:08 PM:

"They only found it by trialling error." ... Fair enough really.

#395 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2020, 09:12 PM:

"I tried to reason with you, I tried to peacefully exonerate you from my situation."

Not only does that word not mean what you think it means, I can't even tell what word you were trying for.

#396 ::: Rainflame ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2020, 11:17 PM:

"you’ll owe an exuberant bill"
as opposed to your usual dull and lifeless bills

#397 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 31, 2020, 11:31 PM:

David Goldfarb@395 -- I think that's a thesaurus error, using exonerate as a synonym for excuse, Different form of excusing -- closer to release in the original user's statement, rather than hold innocent.

#398 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2020, 05:20 AM:

Seen as someone's pencil (thankfully) mis-correction in a book: 'if that's what he thinks he has another thinkg coming'. Why? Why would someone change 'think' to 'thing' in that and think they were correcting an error?

#399 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2020, 08:54 AM:

dcb (398): I've seen a lot of people use 'thing' there. I don't understand it either.

#400 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2020, 10:17 AM:

dcb@398: I have also seen that as an error; an embedded or final 'k' is often subtle or outright missing in speech, so someone who learned the idiom purely by ear could have misunderstood it, just as many of the other errors here look like they come from mis-hearing. As to why someone would change it -- at least half the issue with being wrong is not knowing that one is wrong, and being certain that someone who differs is wrong (cf. Will Rogers).

'k' sometimes floats instead of disappearing; I ran across "gingko" in print within the last week. I suppose this is like "nucular", a shuffle that some find easier to pronounce; the unvoiced palatal(?) stop followed by the voiced version is not easy to say clearly.

#401 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2020, 11:07 AM:

Until today, I have never noticed "another think coming", and had always thought that it was "thing". It makes sense to me. What do you have another of coming? A thing, unspecified.

Google NGrams says that in 2008 "think" outnumbers "thing" (in that phrase) 3:2, so I should have seen it. It also indicates that it's probably wrong to call "thing" wrong, but that dcb's example probably was a miscorrection.

#402 ::: Del Cotter ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2020, 11:47 AM:

The problem with "another thing" being what you have coming is that the first "think" now no longer contributes to the phrase. It becomes just as likely that if you do that, you have another thing coming, if you say that, you have another thing coming, or if you believe that, you have another thing coming.

#403 ::: Del Cotter ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2020, 12:01 PM:

"Fuschia" is another "gingko". The real spelling commemorates the 1500s botanist Leonhart Fuchs.

I notice wandering "h"s: Bhudda, Ghengis, and per the Spelling reference below, Ghandi.

#404 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2020, 02:31 PM:

Del Cotter @403:

At least one of those three, and probably more, the wandering "h" is due to transliteration issues. English doesn't have a "dh" sound, so it isn't pronounced in English. It is in the language the word comes from, however. (How do I know? By repeatedly being corrected on how I pronounce my own name, without me asking).

These names and titles (a) don't have an "h" sound in the standard English pronunciation, but got an "h" due to transliteration issues, and (b) people know they have an "h", but don't know where. So they put them somewhere they can think of it going.

I think I've seen "Bhudda", "Buhdda" (not often, as that changes the pronunciation too much), and "Buddah". I don't think I've seen "Budhda". I have definitely watched people write "Budd" and then pause as they try to figure out if the "h" comes next or at the end.

#405 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2020, 08:13 PM:

I had always thought it was "another thing" up until probably the last ten years. "Another think" makes sense, but it always brings me up short.

Buddha Buck: It's startling to hear a native speaker use a word that English transliterates with those difficult "h"s, as in Afghanistan. I can often actually hear the "h", and then I'm all, "Oh! Yes, of course!" Given that I don't have the relevant wetware, I can never remember the pronunciation, so it's no help in learning the spelling.

#406 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2020, 04:43 AM:

As indicated by Del Cotter @402, it's the fact that the whole phrase is 'if you/he/she/they thinks that you/he/she/they has/have another think coming.' So is the confusion because people have lost the connection between the repetition of the word 'think'? My husband suggested it might be related to pronunciation also, with people unfamiliar with the phrase not having heard the the 'k' on the end (more likely with some American accents, perhaps, compared to British accents?). Also maybe confusion with the phrase 'it's just one thing after another' (as I sideline I loved this from Zelazny in one of the Amber books:
“I traveled for perhaps half an hour then, leaving the place far behind me, before I halted and took my breakfast in a hot, bleak valley smelling faintly of sulfur.
As I was finishing, I heard a crashing noise. A horned and tusked purple thing went racing along the ridge to my right pursued by a hairless orange-skinned creature with long claws and a forked tail. Both were wailing in different keys.
I nodded. It was just one damned thing after another.”

#407 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2020, 09:52 AM:

Agree that "thing" rather than "think" is probably related to breaking the original phrase in two and using only the second half, which then transmutes to "thing" by the usual sort of Telephone game mechanism.

Thanks for the Zelazny quote. I'm also fond of this, whose original source I don't know "Time is what keeps one damned thing after another from being every damned thing at once." I suppose "every damned think at once" would be a working definition of an anxiety attack.

#408 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2020, 12:12 PM:

OtterB I've heard a variant of the second quote attributed to John Lennon. Even if he did use that, he doubless stole it from someone else.

#409 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2020, 12:13 PM:

OtterB I've heard a variant of the second quote attributed to John Lennon. Even if he did use that, he doubless stole it from someone else.

#410 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2020, 03:54 PM:

OtterB @407: The Flying Karamazov Brothers had a t-whirt that said "Time is what keeps everything from happening at once."

I commented back "It doesn't seem to be working very well these days."

#411 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2020, 09:40 AM:

I like Janis Joplin's version: "Tomorrow never comes -- it's all the same damn day, man"

#412 ::: Sunflower ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2020, 11:11 AM:

The convo started by dcb @398 was giving me an earworm, which I pursued so as to identify the artist. To my bemusement, and highly relevantly to this convo, it turns out that the Judas Priest song is in fact titled 'You've Got Another Thing Comin''. So that's probably also a contributing factor.

#413 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2020, 03:15 PM:

Sunflower@412: Huh.I hadn't known of that song.

#414 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2020, 04:37 PM:

I'd always thought it was "If that's what you think, you've got another thing coming" – i.e, if that's what you think is going to happen, the results are going to be different than what you expect.

"You have another think coming" does not seem like a natural phrase to me, although I can imagine people might say it. If that was what I intended, I'd say "If that's what you think — think again."

#415 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2020, 09:19 AM:

Rob Rusik @414, I always thought "You've got another think coming" was deliberately ungrammatical for humorous effect, but apparently I was wrong.

Merriam Webster says that think is the older usage, from the mid-nineteenth century, and originates in British English where a phrase like "taking time to have a think" is not unusual. Thing seems to be more common now, with the song Sunflower cited being mentioned.

#416 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2020, 03:26 PM:

listed among gear to be brought on a near-polar cruise: "neck gator". Reminds me of a UK packaged sweet's slogan: "One nibble and you're nobbled!", although not quite the way either party had intended. This edges into the how-long-has-this-been-going-on territory of (e.g.) "preventative"; if I Google "neck gator" it does the are-you-sure-here's-the-more-plausible-term thing ("gaiter"), but at least one of the sites listed does spell it "gator".

#417 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2020, 08:43 PM:
I think the hardest work is done, with what's left being more pragmatic.
Another case of "not only does that word not mean what you think it means, I can't even tell what word you were going for".
#418 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2020, 11:19 PM:

Yeah, that's a head-scratcher!

#419 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2020, 12:55 AM:

On reflection, I guess they wanted "straightforward". How they got from there to "pragmatic"....

#420 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2020, 08:45 AM:

David Goldfarb @417: maybe trying for a single word meaning 'the practicalities' / 'the practical details'?

#421 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2020, 09:09 PM:

A "world renounced classic." Like Mein Kampf?

#422 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2020, 03:00 PM:

"This may be a mute point."

(Comment on a neighborhood forum, in the context of whether the mayor of Austin can override various open-back-up stupidities on the part of the governor of Texas, specifically to continue a requirement to wear masks in Austin.)

#423 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2020, 12:28 AM:

Just seen: "Life begins at contraception."

#424 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2020, 02:12 PM:

Chris @423: Well, that's probably true for a lot of (hetero) people who want to have sex without having to worry about having children.

#425 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2020, 12:04 AM:

It's a mute point if they're using duct-tape masks , which would improve the contributions many of them are making to the conversation.

#426 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2020, 10:25 AM:

Bill Stewart #425:

I wish. Probably in some other thread, though.

#427 ::: Pfusand ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2020, 11:55 AM:

"... these people are arrested and arranged..."

Row-order by severity of crime, column-order by intelligence?

#428 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2020, 04:40 AM:

Briefing saying that a running course has more uphill than downhill: "cue groans and rye smiles" (probably a Word auto-miscorrect, to be fair)

#429 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2020, 12:27 PM:

Does it go through grain fields?

#430 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2020, 01:18 PM:

Ilka lassie has her laddie
Nane, they say, hae I
Yet a' the lads they smile at me
When comin' thro' the rye.

-- From one of the common variants of Robert Burns's "Comin' Thro' the Rye"

#431 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2020, 02:35 PM:

or past a distillery?

#432 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2020, 06:58 AM:

Joel Polowin @428: a good fit - thank you.

P J Evans @429: that would do it (if it was a good distillery).

#433 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2020, 09:28 AM:

A crisis of conference

#434 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2020, 01:24 PM:

Erik Nelson (433): An appropriate description for a lot of political and work meetings!

#435 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2020, 05:43 PM:

Re "comin' through the rye": I am reminded of Humphrey Bogart offering the bookstore clerk some rye, in a scene that I can't believe made it past the censors.

#436 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2020, 09:40 PM:

From a discussion of the reason a commercial jet managed to touch down nosewheel-first: "During the investigation, pilots from a range of operators were asked how they grip the sidestick. There appeared little consensus from their comments, other than that many pilots do not hold the sidestick in the manor intended by the manufacturer."

#437 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2020, 11:12 AM:

An enthusiastic response to a FB post: "Here here".

#438 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2020, 03:51 PM:

CHip @436:

Any idea why the manufacturer intended the sidestick to be held in a manor, and not in the plane?

#439 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2020, 05:52 PM:

Buddha: Thank you. That's the kind of misuse that my brain happily just slides right past.

#440 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2020, 11:32 AM:

Buddha Buck @ 438: the fault lies with the report writer rather than the manufacturer -- although the details in the report (via Fear of Landing) suggest that Airbus's grasp of ergonomics is ... insufficient. (A tip of the hat to TNH, who IIRC pointed us at FoL some years ago -- it has been fascinating reading even to a long-ago short-time pilot like me.)

Jacque @ 439: I have no idea why I caught that and miss other typos; possibly some early drilling in what-I-was-taught-to-call-homonyms stuck. (Sorry, ?Xopher?, I've misplaced the proper term(s) for them now -- is "homophones" applicable here?) I've missed other language fluffs. I suspect it's something about specific forms that do or don't catch the eye; I've found that I can make exactly the same error that killed me when I rerun a Minesweeper game, which is annoying. (Usually it's not seeing a diagonal.)

#441 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2020, 04:40 PM:

CHip 440: Homophones are the soundalikes; homographs are the lookalikes.

I may have said here before that 4th graders should not have to learn Greek to spell English. I'm advocating calling them soundalikes and lookalikes, and not ever teaching a name for both together. They can learn about homophony and homography when they study Linguistics.

#442 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2020, 07:33 PM:

butbutbut...that would be too sensible....

#443 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2020, 07:55 PM:

I am in favor of not teaching easily confused words together, as I may have remarked in this space before. Teaching "it's" next to "its" is a recipe for confusion. Teach "it's" next to "he's" and "she's" and "they're." Teach "its" next to "his" and "hers" and "theirs."

#444 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2020, 12:31 PM:

"I hope people get the gravity of what's coming down the hatch" says advocate for local police changes.

I don't think he meant having it forced down anyone's throat--except maybe the police.

#445 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2020, 08:37 PM:

from a judge:
“All things considered, in-person voting at polling-places is wrought with uncertainty,"

I didn't realize that in-person voting came out of a metal shop.

#446 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2020, 12:48 PM:

Did they mean fraught with uncertainty?

#447 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2020, 02:12 PM:

That's what I think they meant.

#448 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2020, 02:14 PM:

Or possible (w)racked with uncertainty.

#449 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2020, 04:23 PM:

Yeah, I never know what order to put the billiard balls in to start the game either. Seems like sometimes it matters how you rack them, and sometimes it doesn't.

#450 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2020, 06:19 AM:

From our local (really good) Indian/Nepalese restaurant's take-away menu: "...using cooking techniques that reflect our ethnically and conically diverse country."

Suggestions for what word ended up as 'conically'?

#451 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2020, 08:55 AM:

@450, dcb, I'd guess "culturally".

#452 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2020, 10:17 AM:

I should probably give up on hoping the local paper's headline writer will ever be able to figure out what's wrong with "contract tracing". At least in an epidemiological sense.

#454 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2020, 04:34 AM:

Cassy B. @451: yes, probably 'culturally', but having problems working out how that became 'conically'.

TomB @453: I like it!

#455 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2020, 01:22 PM:

Someone at my work had to do contract tracing. Although that had to do with the provenance of various data items and what we are allowed to do with them.

#456 ::: Sunflower ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2020, 12:27 AM:

If not 'culturally', then possibly 'economically'. Either way, I suspect autocarrot.

#457 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2020, 02:51 AM:

Carrots are also conical and I'm loving the diversity now we're not just limited to orange.

#458 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2020, 10:36 AM:

Allen Beatty #455:

I was sort of thinking of forensic accounting, myself.

#459 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2020, 01:42 PM:

"Pool closed due to the carnivorous."

*SFX: theme from Jaws*

#460 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2020, 02:46 PM:

I'd think "Jurassic Park" would be more appropriate.

#461 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2020, 05:02 PM:

Xopher Halftongue @459: I love it!

Spotted today: "more bangs for your book"

#462 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2020, 05:05 PM:

dcb (461): Hmm. Would that be an action-adventure (with explosions) or a romance (with sex scenes)?

#463 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2020, 11:34 PM:

@dcb #461: That would make a great writing panel title.

#464 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2020, 11:45 PM:

A romance with explosions?

#465 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2020, 11:50 PM:

I'm thinking a tonsorial novel, but that's probably just me.

#466 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2020, 12:02 PM:

Tom Whitmore @ 460: sharks are quite adequately carnivorous; around here, when one is seen dangerously close to swimmers(commonly near the elbow of Cape Cod) it's because the local population of seals has boomed. And ISTM that most water-wading dinosaurs were herbivores (cf brontosaurus) -- or was that something Jurassic Park got wrong? (Or did it add a plesiosaur to the mix?)

#467 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2020, 12:28 PM:

In an article about Theophilus Painter, in a section titles "Academic Freedom", I found the following sentence:

"The censorship by the American Association of University Professors lasted nine years, until the organization was convinced that the regents changed their policies."

The AAUP had censured the UT Board of regents for, among other things, censoring professors and books.

#468 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2020, 08:45 PM:

I'd suggest that that writer learn to read a dictionary.

#469 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2020, 10:11 PM:

Tom Whitmore #465: I'm thinking a tonsorial novel, but that's probably just me.

Hmm. Would Sweeney Todd qualify?

#470 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2020, 10:15 PM:

Dave Harmon: Hugh Wheeler's part of it, indeed!

#471 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2020, 01:50 PM:

Speaking of bang for your book, I've been reading a lot of M/M romance lately. I now recall that at LonCon I worked Access with a delightful person who said they wrote M/M romance, and gave me their authorial name, which I've forgotten.

If that was you could you email me and tell me that name again? My email is the concatenation of my first name above with the singular of what Tolkien's halflings call themselves, at Google's email service.

#472 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2020, 11:11 AM:

Just saw this on Twitter: "Jeremy Corbin is a terrorist synthesizer."

It was mocked by a picture of someone in balaclava and dark glasses, holding a portable keyboard like a rifle.

#473 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2020, 11:43 AM:

Just now saw in a job req: "Financial or Black chain knowledge preferred." Like that, with the capital B.

I'm picturing the brave activists, arm in arm, marching across that bridge in Selma.

#474 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2020, 01:33 PM:

I keep seeing "you may fair better."

#475 ::: SunflowerP ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2020, 12:44 AM:

I'm not sure if this is a Dreadful Phrase per se, but it's definitely dreadful phrasing: this tweet from Jared Holt of Right Wing Watch expresses bemusement at an unidentified person's reference to him, 'According to right-wing commentator Jared Holt....'

It's not grammatically wrong; there are many instances in English of 'commentator on X' being expressed as 'X commentator' ('sports commentator' comes immediately to mind) - I'm not sure but what it's the more common syntax when there's no material difference between 'commentator on the subject of'' and 'commentator who is part of'. But when the two are not semantically equivalent, well....

#476 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2020, 10:54 AM:

A local news service tweets: "With COVID-19 taking a stronghold on Texas and its educational system ..."

Presumably they mean "stranglehold".

#477 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2020, 09:37 PM:

from an e-mail ad:

Just In! This UV-C Sterilizing Robot is No Match for Germs & Bacteria

when I think they mean the other way around

#478 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2020, 04:22 PM:

Just saw a group of novellas described as "a serial series."

#479 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2020, 08:20 PM:

From a website: "Corpotative Solutions".

I think they mean "corporative solutions". By which they may mean "corporate solutions".

#480 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2020, 09:16 PM:

I think they may be recommending ethanol (potative being drinkable, corp "by the body").

#481 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2020, 10:10 PM:

Distilled from potatoes?

#482 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2020, 11:01 AM:

Cooperative? (That word seems to give lots of people trouble, quite aside from orthography.)

#483 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2020, 11:54 AM:

It doesn't appear to be "cooperative", from context. The page header uses "corporate" and the section that uses "corpotative" includes "[X] offers solutions for the ever-increasing needs of corporations and corporations in cellular communication."

Note the redundancy in that last.

When I search for definitions of "corporative", I see several instances of people asking what the difference is from "corporate". The answers make no sense to me: "Corporate is commonly used when talking about large businesses or corporations. [...] Corporative means something that is related to a corporation." "As adjectives the difference between corporate and corporative is that corporate is of or relating to a corporation while corporative is pertaining to a corporation; corporate." As far as I can see, it's all bafflegab trying to justify a management-speak complicationization.

#484 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2020, 02:00 PM:

Putative potato potative?

#485 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2020, 10:35 AM:

Joel #483:

Condolences on having encountered that entire document/webthingy at all.

P J Evans #484:

Potential potent potable?

#486 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2020, 10:37 PM:

I was once offered, at a party, some liquor brewed with, I think, spruce tips. My response was "Evah drink a pine tree? Many pahts ah potable."

#487 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2020, 11:04 PM:

I was at a bid party where they had chili-pepper vodka. Drinking a sample of it got you a badge ribbon reading "guinea pig". (I think it was for Calgary.)

#488 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2020, 11:26 PM:

@P J Evans: close to 40 years ago, somebody on what there was of the net asked for recipes for a Pan-Galactic Gargleblaster. Most concentrated on strangeness rather than aligning with Adams's recipe (as a bartending friend had done); one of the more extreme involved leaving several Szechuan finger peppers in a bottle of vodka until they'd lost all color. IIRC this was supposed to be served straight from the freezer.

#489 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2020, 10:45 AM:

seen on twitter:
"Mr. McCloskey will be in full oratory splendor at the RNC,"

#490 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2020, 04:59 PM:

"He had a feeling someone could have fired a canon in the parlor and he wouldn’t have noticed."

Since only a bishop can fire a canon, I'd think he'd do so in the cathedral, not the parlor.

#491 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2020, 06:02 PM:

What's that smell of burning paper?

Oh, we're firing a canon.

#492 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2020, 09:16 PM:

(but apt, considering how "canon" has recently been a subject of increasingly intemperate arguments.)

#493 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2020, 10:01 PM:

The multiple meanings involved with *that* one are interesting.

#494 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2020, 11:28 AM:

Fond memories of singing "Lorem Ipsum" do the maybe-Palestrina canon "Dona Nobis Pacem."

#495 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2020, 01:16 PM:

Xopher Halftongue @490: It rather depends on what the canon was up to in the parlor, and its environs.

#496 ::: Tony Zbaraschuk ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2020, 10:02 AM:

I continue to believe that executions at the stake should not take place indoors.

#497 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2020, 12:48 PM:

And the day after I post about Lorem Ipsum, it appears in an unexpected place.

#498 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2020, 11:40 AM:


#499 ::: Erik Nelsone ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2020, 11:44 AM:

The one-n canon, that's an ordinance
The two-n cannon, that's an ordnance

#500 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2020, 08:09 PM:

[The church] was built in 1703 and then was deconstructed.

(from a clickbait article about abandoned places)

#501 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2020, 12:19 PM:

"Every time I looked up, he would advert his eyes."


#502 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2020, 06:45 PM:

From IMDB:

With murderous demons on the loose in Los Angeles, it's up to Lucifer to reign in the chaos and protect the ones he most cares about.
Given that it's Lucifer, reigning in chaos is not impossible; however, I'm almost certain they meant "rein in."

#503 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2020, 11:29 AM:

Xopher @502:

I see three possibilities:

1. Lucifer steps in to be the ruler amidst the chaos, therefore it is up to him to reign in the chaos.
2. Lucifer steps in to limit the amount of chaos, therefore it is up to him to rein in the chaos.
3. Lucifer decides to greatly increase the chaos to throw off the murderous demons, therefore it is up to him to rain in the chaos.

Granted, the last would be more in line with Loki or Desire (perhaps Delirium) than with Lucifer, but you never know. I am assuming this is the Lucifer from Sandman, right?

#504 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2020, 01:18 PM:

Buddha 503: The TV series Lucifer is based on the character from Sandman. This is from the series, so yes.

SPOILER: Ur trgf zbfg bs gurz va bar cynpr, gnxrf ba uvf shyy nfcrpg nf Xvat bs Uryy, naq pbzznaqf gurz gb tb ubzr. Fb ur xvaq bs qbrf obgu. I suspect they thought they were making a pun, but it doesn't work in writing.

#505 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2020, 07:35 PM:

I gather that as with most Hollywood "based on"s, a more accurate phrase here might be "inspired by"? I admit that I've never actually watched the show, although I did see the cameo appearance in "Crisis on Infinite Earths".

#506 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2020, 01:47 PM:

David 505: Well, IIRC Lucifer doesn't actually have much of a storyline in Sandman. He leaves Hell for a "vacation," they try to get him to go back, he doesn't (so far all in the series), an angel is appointed to take his place and starts torturing people "for their own good," which is, of course, even worse for the torturees.

He appears briefly when Delirium goes looking for her dog. That's all I remember.

The Endless are not characters in the series, so Delirium does not appear. The rest is in there, including half-faced demon Mazikeen (in a human guise most of the time). I'd say that's a pretty good argument for "based on," given that for a series they have to leave the central conflict ("Will Lucifer return to Hell? And what about Naomi?") unresolved.

#507 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2020, 06:12 AM:

There's an intermediate step worth noting: After Sandman finished, there was a spin-off series about what Lucifer did next (which ended up running for as many issues as its parent, though it didn't make as much of a cultural impact). It was conceived and written by Mike Carey, who went on to do The Unwritten and The Girl with All the Gifts. The TV show is based on the premise of Carey's version, rather than directly on Gaiman's.

#508 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: September 22, 2020, 06:34 AM:

...actually, you know what, I could be wrong about that. (The last sentence, I mean. The existence of Mike Carey's Lucifer isn't in doubt.)

I'd always assumed that the Lucifer TV series was based on the Lucifer comic book series, because that made sense, but now that I really think about it I'm having trouble thinking of any aspects of the TV series that relate specifically to Carey's version and not just to Lucifer's appearance in the last Sandman story arc.

#509 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2020, 12:46 AM:

From reading about the TV series I gather that Lucifer uses his demonic powers to, well, solve crimes. That doesn't strike me as in character for any of the comics versions. I'm entirely prepared to hear that I'm misinformed.

#510 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: September 23, 2020, 02:41 AM:

No, I believe the "passes the time by solving crime" bit was added for the TV series.

If memory serves, his last appearance in Sandman was around the same time Loki was running around impersonating a police officer for reasons of his own, but I'm pretty sure Lucifer wasn't in on that particular weasel's nest.

#511 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2020, 11:37 PM:

"Whale Shark With Over 50 Fish in Its Mouth Wins Underwater Photo Contest"

How do you hold a camera steady with so many fish in your mouth?

#512 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2020, 01:24 PM:

Reading real estate ads, there was one for a small, somewhat older townhome that said there was a large basement space with "small chicken." I thought perhaps it had a play area for small children. Looking at the photos, it had a small kitchen in the basement. Bwawk.

#513 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2020, 03:16 PM:

OtterB (512): That's a spill-chicken* error if I ever saw one!

(These days it's more likely an auto-corrupt error, of course.)


#514 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2020, 12:43 PM:

A certain star had "a problem with subscription medication."

Clickbait articles are awful, but they're a rich source of amusing errors.

#515 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: October 14, 2020, 06:27 PM:

Xopher @514:

My pharmacy auto-fills my orders on a monthly basis. Does that count as subscription medication?

#516 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2020, 05:02 AM:

As an expression of relief: "Oh few!"
(Not sure if that was someone who has never seen 'phew' written down or an auto-miscorrect error).

#517 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2020, 01:22 PM:

Buddha 515: I guess so! they don't do that with meds that are widely abused, though.

dcb 516: Huh. That's an error that never would have occurred to me, possibly because I've always assumed that 'phew' was pronounced with a bilabial fricative (φ), rather than the standard-English labiodental one (f). So it's more of a noise transcribed than an actual word.

Now of course there are dialects (all UK AFAIK) where φ (not f) is the pronunciation for 'th' (unvoiced; β is the voiced version). So "mother thing" is something like /məβər φiŋ/, as opposed to //məðər θiŋ/ in standard dialects. But if the writer you cite spoke one of those, I'd expect the mispelling to be 'thew'.

#518 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2020, 04:59 PM:

Seen in a page of CVs of the trainers for our school district's anti-sexual-harassment training: "[the trainer] has testified in court marshals, [... and other legal settings]".

Giving the testimony inside the marshal sounds kind of uncomfortable for all involved.

#519 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2020, 07:42 PM:

Adding in the second level of not-quite-right -- shouldn't that be "courts martial/marshall"? That's the way my sense of logic plays.

#520 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2020, 08:54 PM:

Xopher 517: I'd have said your visualization would be spelled "whew", but I'm blanking on where or how frequently I hear either; I have a vague sense that "whew" is older, such that "phew" might have been a shift in pronunciation, but no hard data.

Tom 519: I don't know how many adjective-last titles/phrases we still have, but I'd expect any of them to be wrong-according-to-classic-rules more often than not. I don't remember the last time I saw a mention of a meeting of top state-government lawyers; it was probably spelled "attorneys general", but that would have been in a relatively-formal source. "court martial" has the additional problem that the verb form has a long history -- I suspect Melville would have cringed but also that generations of English teachers have taught that Billy Budd was court-martialed.

#521 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2020, 09:29 PM:

Right after writing the above I continued with Joe Abercrombie's The Trouble with Peace -- which also misuses "marshal" for "martial" (US hardback p. 289, describing music -- in the context, setting-things-in-order music (whatever that sounds like) was not intended.)

#522 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2020, 11:30 AM:

Xopher Halftongue @517: sadly I don't know much about the details of pronunciation, but after looking stuff up and thinking about how I pronounce this, definitely labiodental fricative not bilabial. I can't even work out HOW to pronounce it bilabially - 'pew' - like 'you' with a 'p' stuck on the front?

#523 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2020, 12:58 PM:

CHip 520: The difference between 'whew' and 'phew' pronounced bilabially is a slight tension in the lips; a bilabial glide (w*) versus a bilabial fricative (φ).

re yr ct Tom 519: We have a few adjectives that follow the noun in English; unsurprisingly, they're mostly relatively recent borrowings from French: the only one I can think of right now that always follows the noun is 'galore', but several others sometimes do, depending on the phrase: 'deluxe', 'martial', 'general'.

So 'We have options galore', never 'We have galore options' (or anything else).

'Burger deluxe', but 'deluxe accommodations'.

'Court(s) martial', but 'martial law'.

'Attorney(s) general' but 'the general case'.

dcb 522: The unvoiced bilabial fricative 'φ' is the blowing-out-a-candle sound, with perhaps a bit more lip tension. Alternatively, position your lips to say 'p' and say 'f' through that position (if you make a Bronx cheer, open your lips more, and add tension).

It is the sound that classists transcribe as 'f' when dialect-spelling certain lower-class British dialects: "I'm goin' out wif my mates" is actually (from my limited observation) not 'f' at the end of 'with', but 'φ'.

*In my dialect; there's no "hwich hwat hwether" in my speech; 'which' and 'witch' are pronounced identically.

#524 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2020, 01:03 PM:

dcb, op. cit.: I'd transcribe 'pew' as /pyu/. The p is followed by a 'y' glide and/or palatalized, but it's still a stop.

#525 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2020, 02:15 PM:

I'd always read and pronounced the "ph" in "phew" as exactly the same sound as in "Philadelphia" or "phone" - that is, indistinguishable to me from "f". Thank you for the "goin' out wif my mates" example, Xopher, I can hear that distinction. Thus for me there's much more distinction between "whew" and "phew" than there is for Xopher.

Xopher, do you pronounce "Phil" and "fill" the same?

#526 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2020, 04:09 PM:

lorax 525: I do. 'φ' isn't part of my native dialect's consonant inventory, which I guess is why 'phew' strikes me as a transcription of a noise, rather than an actual word.

Now I'm wondering if native speakers of the "'th' is a bilabial" dialects use it initially. I don't trust the writers who dialect-write them as saying 'fing', because writers with no respect for the characters they're writing about don't bother to research the people's actual dialect. I'm pretty sure they don't use the voiced bilabial at the beginning of a word ('the', 'there' as /βə/, /βer/ respectively), but I stand ready to be corrected.

The worst examples of this, of course, are when writers misspell words in dialogue to sound exactly how they sound in standard pronunciations, as a way of communicating that this character is stupid and can't spell. I want to throw their books across the room.

At a higher stratum (lexical instead of phonological), Spider Robinson had his lower-class-dialect speaker character address an individual woman as 'youse', which is flat-out wrong.

#527 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2020, 07:10 PM:

Just to clarify: I mean flat-out wrong by Spider. That is, he got the dialect (one spoken here in Hoboken, among other places) wrong. 'Youse' is the plural of 'you', and only the plural of 'you'.

(Yes, I'm aware there's controversy about "y'all." There is none about 'youse' as far as I know.

I don't know if Spider was trying to write dialect and just didn't research it, or if he was just trying to make Eddie sound stupid, but given the other problems with Spider's writing, I suspect a combination of the two.

#528 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 16, 2020, 10:20 PM:

Even *I* know "youse" is plural (as in "youse guys"). "Y'all" is maybe plural, but if you want to be sure, it's "all y'all", at least in Texas.

#529 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2020, 01:35 AM:

Sometimes it's just summa y'all, rather than all y'all. As Honest Abe said, "I can fool all y'all summa the time, and summa y'all alla the time, but I can't fool all y'all alla the time."

#530 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2020, 09:56 AM:

For what it's worth, I pronounce "phew" (the sound one makes when one is relieved) as something like "fyoo". It's sort of one-and-a-half syllables; the initial f sound is a little softer than the f in (say) feather; less voiced, if that makes sense, and it immediately glides into the y sound.

(For what it's worth; I pronounce "Phil" and "fill" the same; I didn't realize it was possible to pronounce them differently. I also cannot hear or pronounce a difference between "Mary, marry, and merry", but I do pronounce "pin" and "pen" differently and I pronounce "which" and "witch" differently.)

#531 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2020, 02:33 PM:

I can hear marry, merry, and Mary differently if someone does that, but I'd have to practice to make the distinction. (The eastern isogloss (dialect boundary) for that is apparently the Alleghenies, a fact I learned in 1977 and still, for some reason, retain.)

I was born in Illinois of Chicagoan parents, and it bewildered me that my Michigander schoolmates said "ink pen." It wasn't til college that I found out why: /i/ as in pin and /e/ as in pen are not distinct in their dialect. The word 'disambiguate' is universally known now, but it was the province of a few language geeks back then!

#532 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2020, 02:40 PM:

I was thinking about it, and I pronounce "few" and "phew" very similarly but not QUITE the same. I'm not honestly sure if it's an audible difference or just a difference in my head, but "phew" is breathier; less voiced. Like the difference between "witch" and "which"; "which" is breathier. hhhoowich, as it were.

#533 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2020, 02:52 PM:

Cassy B. @532:

For me, "which" has a more aspirated "w", while "witch" isn't aspirated, but there is a hint of a stop after the vowel. The "-wich" in "sandwich" is like "which" without the aspiration, or "witch" without the stop.

#534 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2020, 06:05 PM:

"Now I'm wondering if native speakers of the "'th' is a bilabial" dialects use it initially. I don't trust the writers who dialect-write them as saying 'fing', because writers with no respect for the characters they're writing about don't bother to research the people's actual dialect. I'm pretty sure they don't use the voiced bilabial at the beginning of a word ('the', 'there' as /βə/, /βer/ respectively), but I stand ready to be corrected."

Cliff Parisi on Call the Midwife is a good example (his accent is genuine). He says "fing" part of the time and "thing" part of the time, as far as I can hear.

#535 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2020, 09:27 PM:

HelenS 534: Well, that's interesting. Does it depend who he's talking to? Or is the actor just forgetting he's supposed to talk his hometalk, and slip into toffish?

#536 ::: Del Cotter ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2020, 05:00 PM:

Which British accents do this?

#537 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2020, 07:55 PM:

I don't know. It may depend on which words come in front of fing/thing, or it may be his accent waxing and waning during the interview, not sure. Or I might be hearing wrong. I definitely hear an awful lot of "anovver fing" from East End characters on Call the Midwife, but a lot of the actors didn't grow up with the accent, and Parisi did. Oh, and I was in Bristol last August and did hear it there as well.

#538 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2020, 10:47 AM:

OK, a stop is a consonant that completely blocks the airflow, and then (sometimes) releases it. English examples are (unvoiced) p, t, k, (voiced) b, d, g. Those are phonemes; sometimes they're realized differently in actual speech, often as a glottal stop (see working-class British pronunciations of 'bottle', for example).

The sound at the end of the word 'which' is the affricate č, which is phonetically the stop /t/ followed by a sh sound (/š/), but which functions as a single phoneme in English.

Buddha, is that what you mean by a "hint of a stop" after the vowel?

#539 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2020, 10:55 AM:

HelenS 537: Thank you. People code-switch and code-mix when they know multiple dialects, so it's hard to sort it out. I guess I'd really need to listen to someone who only speaks that home accent, and they've all heard Toffish* on TV.

Sigh. Contamination frustration.

*I'm using that term as a shorthand, lumping together all the accents spoken by the British upper classes, including but not limited to RP and the accent(s) used by radio and TV news presenters.

#540 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2020, 01:58 PM:

Xopher @538:

On the site IPA Chart, I run into the problem that the sound, to me, is closest to either the voiceless palato-alveolar afficate (t͡ʃ) or the voiceless alveolo-palatal afficate (t͡ɕ), but I can't distinguish between them when listening to the sound recordings (they use different readers for the two).

Looking at Wikipedia, their sound recordings...are the exact same recordings. But by reading the description of the two, I think it's more like the palato-alveolar affricate (which Wikipedia says is, in the American tradition, written as ⟨č⟩.

After saying "which" and "witch" so many times paying attention to how I say them, I can no longer tell the difference.

#541 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2020, 02:24 PM:

Buddha 540: Thanks for trying. IPA is phonetic, and I'm pretty sure that distinction is too subtle for most ears. We don't need to get that granular for these purposes. We don't distinguish between the ell sounds in 'love' and in 'vole', either, and IPA would.

After saying "which" and "witch" so many times paying attention to how I say them, I can no longer tell the difference.

Happens to the best of us, especially linguists. So often, in fact, that it has a name: scant-out. The first person to describe it was trying to figure out which uses of 'scant' were grammatical, and found after a while that they could no longer decide, because 'scant' had become a meaningless series of sounds.

#542 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2020, 04:04 PM:

See also Terry Carr's story "Stanley Toothbrush", originally published as by Carl Brandon.

#543 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2020, 05:21 PM:

For me, 'marry' merry' and 'Mary' are totally distinct from one another and I have a hard time working out how they would sound if all pronounced the same.
The 't' sound is slightly more distinct in 'witch' than in 'which' (for me).

#544 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2020, 06:35 PM:

dcb 543: If we're ever in the same place at the same time (again? Have we met?) I'll demonstrate it for you.

There's a character in a Lanford Wilson play who proposed to his wife by saying "Marry me, Mary" over and over. They got it right and pronounced the two words identically. Then Wilson had to spoil it by having another character refer to the "nosh" in the kitchen. Irish-American Catholics in Chicago in the 80s did not use that word.

#545 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2020, 11:14 PM:

"Mary Mack's Father's Making Mary Mack Marry Me" pronounces the three words differently, in this version in an Irish accent.

#546 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2020, 11:45 PM:

One of my great-grandfathers, born in Canada, with a mother from Roxburghshire, pronounced the name close to May-ry, according to my mother.

#547 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2020, 04:18 AM:

Xopher: Thank you! And yes, we met at LonCon.

Another pronunciation difference I had problems with during my time in the USA (3-month internship at the Crane Foundation in Baraboo, Wisconsin) was 'd' for 't' - the name 'Patty' being pronounced 'Paddy'. I also realised later that when I'd referred to something as being from a 'Noddy' book (meaning 'really simple/easy' (from the Noddy books for young children, by Edid Blyton) not only was the set of books not known but it was coming across as 'naughty' book - quite a different meaning!

#548 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2020, 12:45 PM:

dcb 547: I thought so!

In most American dialects, /t/ and /d/ are both reduced to a flap /D/ between a stressed vowel and an unstressed one. Unlike a real /d/, /D/ is ballistic; that is, the tongue bounces off the alveolar ridge, rather than being held there and then released. That same flap is /r/ in some languages, so it can be a bit confusing!

So 'latter' and 'ladder' are pronounced identically. You can invent situations* where this causes misunderstandings, but they're not common.

Your case is a better example, but it depends on the accent difference. I pronounce 'Noddy' and 'naughty' with the same (phonetic) consonants, but the first vowel is different; 'Noddy' and 'father' share the same first vowel, but the first vowel in 'naughty' is darker, further back. It's the vowel in 'aw', not 'ah'.

* "Do you need a ladder to change that bulb, or can you make do with a chair?" "The [ladder|latter]."

#549 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2020, 12:57 PM:

dcb, I pronounce Mary, merry, and marry the way you probably pronounce merry.

#550 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2020, 03:34 PM:

My experience here in western New York is that Mary, marry, and merry are all pronounced rhyming with airy.

#551 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2020, 06:26 PM:

Mary and Jerry are to marry, but they tarry, and their tarries are merry and airy-fairy. Gary, Harry, and Larry get very wary and starey at Mary and Jerry's merry airy-fairy tarries.

All the main words have the same vowel. Only the initial consonant differs.

Bet it's a tongue-twister where they differ.

#553 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2020, 06:42 PM:

The neighbor was clearly eating Chinese food.

#554 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2020, 12:16 PM:

John 552: Aww, they fixed it. Darn.

#555 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2020, 12:16 PM:

John 552: Aww, they fixed it. Darn.

#556 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: October 23, 2020, 09:28 AM:

Xopher Halftongue @551: Fascinating, as definitely not all the same vowel sound for me! Jerry = merry; Mary = airy = fairy; marry = tarry = Larry = Harry = Gary. But not difficult.

And it's ages since I linked to 'The Chaos' written by Gerard Nolst Trenité in 1922. I recently listened to one of the audio recordings online with an American narrator - leading to some interesting differences in pronunciation. I have real difficulties in reading this poem aloud because I generally crack up laughing!

#557 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2020, 08:28 AM:

Xopher @ 526: I would swear I'd seen the voiced (aspirated?) bilabial fricative written non-initially, e.g. "I'll tell muvver!" in "The Schwartz-Metterklume Method", but my semi-complete Saki has disappeared -- and (noting various of your comments) I wouldn't bet that that observer of mostly-upperclass foibles had correctly quoted demotic speech (or that the pronunciation hadn't wandered after a century of radio).

To my ear, I pronounce "[]arry" and "[]erry" clearly differently; I think that would hold even if you caught me unaware[s?] instead of trying to listen to myself. I think of "Mary" as slipping toward a German closed-e (IPA "e", cf dbc @ 556) but that's even more uncertain. It's anyone's guess how much this comes from my parents (NW PA and northern VT/NH), how much from my early environment (MD a few miles NW of DC), and how much from random sources -- I learned a chunk of G&S by ear before I could read either words or music, and in the mind's ear Martin Green pronounces "tarry" with the sound I'd use for "bat".

#558 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2020, 01:45 PM:

CHip 557: Yes, they use the voiced bilabial fricative medially (mother, another). I don't think I've seen or heard it initially (this, that).

#559 ::: Del Cotter ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2020, 10:39 AM:

Who in England, anywhere, uses a voiced bilabial fricative?

#560 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2020, 10:49 AM:

Del 559: Discussed in detail upthread, but in summary: people who speak the lower-class dialects that result in dialect bigots spelling their pronunciation of "mother" as "muvver" and of "another thing" as "anuvver fing."

I've watched video of native speakers of those dialects and they don't put their teeth against their lower lip as in f, or v; instead, they bring both lips together.

#561 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2020, 03:38 PM:

Xopher #560: You don't actually need a "dialect bigot". For most people, if the sound they hearing is midway between their own accustomed phonemes but the rest of the word is intelligible, they will certainly interpret it as some phoneme from their usual selection.

#562 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2020, 10:52 AM:

Dave 561: The bigotry doesn't come in hearing it as v (you're right, you hear it according to your own phonemic system), but in writing another dialect as it sounds, when you don't write your own that way, to show the person speaking it as "ignorant" or "uneducated."

#563 ::: Buddha Buck Sees Spam In An Old Thread ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2020, 05:51 PM:

A spammer was able to post to The Dreadful Phrases Strike Back but for some reason I can't.

#564 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2020, 07:47 PM:

There were two spam entries there. Abi got rid of one, and probably locked the thread.

#565 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2020, 11:26 PM:

The second spam entry had several beautifully dreadful phrases in it, so perhaps it was deemed relevant....

#566 ::: Del Cotter ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2020, 08:38 AM:

I am a native speaker; fans reading this have heard me say hope is the fing wiv fevvers (not that exact line...), most recently in Dublin. I'll add my experience to dcb's: definitely a voiceless labiodental fricative "f" or a voiced labiodental fricative "v", and definitely not a bilabial fricative in either case. So you have it from the horse's mouth!

(I should say I'm not new to this terminology, so I'm not feeling my way into it as a result of this thread coming up)

Have you seen someone say this besides yourself, who you can direct me to? I'm interested to know how widespread a position it is, and in what circles.

#567 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2020, 02:41 PM:

Xopher Halftongue #562: Hmm. It's also arguable that writing dialect pronunciation can serve simply to identify or highlight the speaker's ethnicity and/or social class, which in text can be otherwise non-obvious. "Write your own that way" is not something that usually makes much sense, in that that the writer's transcription of their own "speech" will not normally be distorted by an accent. Of course, that wouldn't apply to grammatical usages such as "youse" or "you all". An interesting exception would be if a viewpoint character's accent isn't meant to match the writer's, but another character's accent is.

That said, I certainly grew up making joking reference to "Lawn Guyland" or "the 'guyland" (both referring to Long Island), comparing our own speech to "network English". (When I moved out of state, I quit using that joke simply because "outsiders" didn't get it.)

I have heard that dialect novels were an important stage in the development of American Black literature... hmm. Once I get back into the shop next week, I may be able to lay hands on an older work with narration in dialect; I know I've shelved such books, but they may not have survived our last year or two of intensive culling. (Much of Mark Twain's famous work would qualify, but is iffy for this context.)

#568 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 31, 2020, 10:29 PM:

Del 566: That's fascinating. So there must be multiple dialects, unless I'm drastically misremembering what I saw.

I haven't got a lot of in-person exposure to people speaking any of them. I vividly recall seeing video of a native speaker and saying to myself "that's bilabial!" when he said "with," but I can't remember what video. Not an actor, I'm pretty sure, because I wouldn't assume they got it right. So I'm stuck for that observation.

You used 'wiv' to transcribe your pronunciation of 'with'; is it a voiced labiodental for you? Because I use the unvoiced interdental there. "With or without" is /wiθ or wiðawt/ in my dialect. Actually even /wiθawt/ doesn't sound wrong, just not what I'd say naturally.

Dave 567: I second your "Hmm." It's not clear to me that I've seen non-"make fun of the lower class" dialect transcription. But I've definitely seen the ridicule. In some cases they transcribe the standard pronunciations just to make the speaker look stupid on the page!

It's possible that it's subtler than I've said. But a native speaker of a standard dialect has to be careful to avoid punching down.

#569 ::: Del Cotter ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2020, 05:01 AM:

That's why I advise writers to deliberately understate the phonetics in fiction, using maybe one phoneme in a sentence even if they know there are others. It's like salt, you only need a few grains for flavour. Patrick O'Brian was a master of this; you could be reading paragraphs of several different rich accents before noticing he never spelled a single word phonetically, it was all just as you would see it in a dictionary. "Ain't" was the exception that proves the rule, because who now writes "ha'n't"?

Try this for lip reading. It's in SW London, and there are three men in the first two minutes. At least one is a Londoner, and at least one is not. Check the guy in the yellow vest saying "probably killed the mother" at 1:15, and the guy in the grey sweater saying "that was on the footpath" at 1:35.

Warning: also contains cute orphan badgers, click at own risk

#570 ::: Del Cotter ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2020, 05:26 AM:

Sorry, you asked a question. The answer is it's voiced, because it's part of a complex of transformations from national standard to local regional, and the standard is a voiced theta. So the transformed version needs to be voiced too: wiđ --> wiv

If the standard was wiθ, then the transformation would be to wif, but it isn't round our way. We don't think the logic through, but as Grimm found, the logic happens anyway.

To be honest, mutation could (not necessarily would) make it wif anyway in that exact phrase, because the next word begins with an f, but I always ignore mutation when transcribing. I've said before here on ML how I think written Welsh made the wrong call on that.

#571 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2020, 03:39 PM:

"Probably killed the mother" sounds apico-dental to me, and I can see that he's not articulating bilabially or labiodentally.

"Footpath" is not clear visually. I watched it several times, and didn't see his teeth, but even I can articulate a labiodental without showing my teeth. It sounds bilabial (to me, not a native speaker), but I can't be sure.

Good warning on the adorable baby badgers! I'm reminded of the guy who pointed out that British badgers look like they'd invite you in for tea, while American badgers look like they'd stab you in an alley.

#572 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 01, 2020, 03:42 PM:

I found the link I was talking about.

#573 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2020, 04:27 AM:

Not a new one, but... of someone who has just been described as riding: "handing my reigns to our Guidemaster."

#574 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2020, 11:51 AM:

Another interesting variation for Xopher et al to analyze: go to NPR's hourly news summaries, scroll to the one for 7am today (4 Nov), and bump forward (controls in the upper right) to ~4:20. Korva Coleman's pronunciation of the current hurricane sounds to me just like the Babbage collaborator who a computer language was named after -- the initial vowel is the way I learned to pronounce the 'e' in spelled-out Greek letters (IPA 'eɪ' or Phonics "long a" unlike earlier announcers (or the HHGG narrator) who pronounced it 'i'/"long e"), but the consonant sounds voiced.

#575 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2020, 05:03 PM:

Just saw "the lessor of two evils."

"Why yes, I do own both Hill House and Bly Manor. Would you like to rent one?"

#576 ::: Rainflame ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2020, 11:08 PM:

"a bowl in a china shop"
also, seen twice recently, "my bike was stollen"

#577 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2020, 04:27 AM:

Rainflame @576: I love the idea of a bike made of cake - not very practical, alas, other than for eating. And most importantly, would it have a marzipan centre.

#578 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2020, 01:58 PM:

Would it be more practical if it were a stale stollen?

#579 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2020, 03:28 PM:

Possibly less practical if it were a stolen stale stolen.

#580 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2020, 03:48 PM:

You could of course, re-steal the stale stolen stollen. And some glaze would help seal the re-stolen stale stolen stollen. Depending on your height, you might need to stand on a stool to seal the re-stolen stale stolen stollen.

Honestly, steel is better than stollen (stolen or not). Don't try to combine them; a re-stolen steel/stale stolen stollen bicycle is a sad, sad thing.

#581 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2020, 03:52 PM:

And what if STALIN...


*crumple crumple*


#582 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2020, 04:28 PM:

[covering remains with stale stollen shreds]
Oh. Dear.

#583 ::: Angiportus Librarysaver ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2020, 07:53 PM:

At least none of you were stallin'.

#584 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2020, 10:16 PM:

"Making Light is wonderful -- you can get such a huge return in entertainment from a trifling investment of wit." (borrowed from Mark Twain.)

Meanwhile, something new: I made it almost all the way through Rob Kapilow's Listening for America: Inside the Great American Songbook from Gershwin to Sondheim without having more than minor disagreements, until I hit the antepenultimate paragraph, which ends (discussing Hamilton)
...the show's decidedly pro-immigration, pro-diversity message has given the production an extraordinary resonance at a moment in America's history when anti-immigration sentiments and border walls are central tenants of the country's ruling party.
While I'll grant that those ideas may have taken up residence in the Rethuglican mind similarly to the parasite occupying Chekov in ST2, I don't think the resemblance was intended.

The book, incidentally, is strongly recommended to anyone with an interest in show music (which massively overlapped with popular music in the first half of this century). It's a particular win for anyone who can't mentally hear music on seeing a score (i.e., most of us) because all of the examples (up to a dozen fragments in every chapter), including the banal versions lesser composers might have come up with, are available on YouTube (piano-vocal performances with the score scrolling under a cursor line to help the listener keep track).

#585 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2020, 10:07 PM:

CHip@584 - I used to live near Tennent NJ. The chances of landlords misspelling signs increased disturbingly the closer you got to it.

#586 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2020, 06:19 PM:

dcb 547: Did you tell me at LonCon that you write romance novels?

#587 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2020, 06:36 AM:

Xopher Halftongue @586: not me, no. I wrote a book 'parkrun: much more than just a run in the park', but no romances - must be someone else you're thinking of.

#588 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2020, 04:21 PM:

dcb 587: Oh, I remember you telling me that! I now know exactly which person you are. You're amazing!

Someone else must have given me the now-lost cards for their romance novels, and I conflated the two experiences.

#589 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2020, 05:24 PM:

Xopher Halftongue@588: Many people consider me more than a little nuts, but that goes with the territory as an ultramarathon runner (expecting to reach 100 ultras sometime next year, all being well).

#591 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2020, 02:36 PM:

homophones have risen from the grave: "... or broke their office lamps with a mighty swing of my yo-yo and reigned sparks all over the desk." (from The Scapegracers.) ISTM that this one's a bit beyond the rein/reign misuse discussed above.

#592 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2020, 05:16 AM:

"...beached on the mudflaps of history..."

Autocarrot strikes again?

#593 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2020, 01:16 PM:

"... if I should use this drinking challis as an over the top coffee cup"

The accompanying photo showed a typical lidded pottery stein, so I presume the writer started from there and travelled via 'chalice'. ('Challis' is apparently a lightweight woven fabric, so wouldn't work very well as a drinking vessel.)

#594 ::: Singing Wren ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2020, 02:01 PM:

dcb @ 593:

I initially misread "challis" as "challah", and was thinking that while coffee soaked bread might make for an efficient sort of breakfast, it would also likely be a fairly messy one.

#595 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2020, 02:29 PM:

There are any number of soups served in a bread-bowl, and the crust (if well cooked) tends to be pretty waterproof for a while. Certainly long enough to get through breakfast.

#596 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2020, 03:13 PM:

When what you think is an awesome and amazing story turns out to be clumsy writing:

#NSFfunded scientists have documented a colony of Adélie penguins using autonomous drones.

#597 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2020, 03:22 PM:

Spinach dip tends to be served in a bread bowl - it works pretty well.
And the leftover bowl is a nice meal in itself.

#598 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: November 13, 2020, 04:47 PM:

Xopher @596: paraphrasing a comment I saw on Twitter, "of course they had to use autonomous drones, penguins don't have thumbs to operate the controls of a remote-controlled drone!"

#599 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 14, 2020, 12:41 PM:

Seen on Twitter

Laura Ansley @lmansley · 1h

Update your lesson plans, we have a new perfect example for Oxford commas.

Benjamin Dreyer @BCDreyer · 1h

The highlights of his waning administration include encounters with Rudy Giuliani, a healthcare disaster and a dildo collector.
#600 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 16, 2020, 01:41 PM:

episode 3: Gaining acceptance for the COVID-19 vaccine, she said, will be "unchartered territory." Since this was the Boston Globe quoting a local, your guess is as good as mine as to whether this was
* an accurate quote
* an editorial error
* a reporter assuming the speaker's local accent left out an intended 'r'.

#601 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2020, 09:58 AM:

Xopher @596 I hadn't seen that. Thanks for the laugh.

#602 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2020, 07:12 PM:

P J Evans #599: As John Scalzi points out, that was certainly done "accidentally on purpose", and refers to a classic example of similar form.

#603 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2020, 11:13 PM:

I saw one internet story that had both a dragon's layer and a century on the watchtower.

#604 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2020, 02:50 PM:

I read an m/m fantasy romance where one of the guys was a dragon (he took human form mostly). So yeah, the other guy was arguably a dragon's layer.

#605 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2020, 05:00 PM:

Xopher @ 604: Glad I didn't have a mouthful of tea when I read that!
Seen in an article online today:
"professional Welch Footballers"
"superior mental toughness score be dammed"

#606 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2020, 12:04 AM:

Today, saw "pulmonary embolisms in your legs."

Humans never get those.

#607 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2020, 01:41 PM:

Xopher @606: at least with that one I'm pretty sure I know what they meant, even if the actual words are very different!

#608 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2020, 06:41 PM:

When I see something described as "creppy", does that mean anything other than that the writer thinks the thing is "crappy" but doesn't know how to spell the word? I've been seeing it more and more frequently in the last year or so.

#609 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2020, 09:54 AM:

Joel Polowin @608: Maybe it's related to the following that I saw advertised for free: "VHS video player Scary connection Working when last used".

#610 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2020, 12:01 PM:

@608: I wonder whether that's some new slang from "decrepit"? (cf early-1960's "grotty", allegedly from "grotesque".)

Even NPR (or at least their transcription software) is producing one of our unfavorites:
In fact, the Broncos had all of their quarterbacks declared ineligible for their game today against the Saints due to COVID concerns. A wide receiver from their practice squad who played quarterback in college took the reigns instead.

#611 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2020, 12:25 PM:

CHip 610: I've sent them a tweet to let them know. Let's see if they fix it.

#612 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2020, 05:47 PM:

Xopher @611: I've 'Liked' your Tweet. :-)

#613 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2020, 10:22 PM:

dcb 612: And now that I know your Twitter handle, I've followed you.

#614 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2020, 04:51 AM:

Xopher Halftongue @613: and I've followed you. I admit I don't tweet much!

#615 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2020, 06:52 PM:


No, you read that right: CRIMINALIZED ONIONS

Well, I do put them in an enclosed space where it's too hot, and they DO tend to be browner* than other onions...

I saw "criminal mushrooms" for sale in a store years ago, too. Now they call them Baby Bellas (they are NOTHING like Portobellos) and it spoils the fun.

*Brown people being more likely to have their behavior criminalized, you see

#616 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2020, 12:52 PM:

Xopher Halftongue @ 611: [sound effect: self-dopeslap] Damfino why I didn't send them something this time -- too busy being snarky? I usually mail them when I see something like that; I don't know whether mail gets a better response generally (a couple of things have been fixed), but I don't do any of the social media. As of today this story wasn't fixed.

@615: somebody has something seriously bent -- either their mind or their spellchecker -- but that's a good response.

#617 ::: Rainflame ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2020, 05:14 PM:

seen multiple times recently: (45) will declare marshall law

Great, bring in Matt Dillon to straighten out the president

#618 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2020, 08:35 PM:

That one would be George Marshall. Or John Marshall. Marshal Dillon wouldn't touch it.

#619 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2020, 01:18 PM:

CHip 616: Perhaps you accurately gauged the probability of them fixing it, which as of a few seconds ago they hadn't done.

#620 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2020, 05:25 PM:

If the photo of the supermarket price sign shared on the social medias is real:

Intimidation Crab Meat

#621 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2020, 06:30 PM:

Erik @ #620

Presumably that goes with the image of the knife-wielding crab?

#622 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2020, 09:22 PM:

"Jon Bon Jovi’s 18,000-Square-Foot New Jersey Mansion Comes Complete With a Music Studio and Private Pub"

Private pub?

#623 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2020, 11:56 PM:

Saw "upholstering" a weapon. Presumably they meant unholstering.

#624 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2020, 11:27 AM:

Probable autocorrect fail, in an email from our office manager about our building's holiday lunch, to let her know if we wanted to order a boxed lunch for ourselves and our sufficient other.

Joked with my husband last night about what happened if you had an insufficient other.

#625 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2020, 11:29 AM:

The headline for a recent item in the "Daily News Briefs" collection at the Census Bureau said that Black Americans were more venerable to the Holiday Blues.

(The collection contains links and summaries for assorted articles that mention the Census Bureau or data collected by the Census Bureau.)

#626 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 09, 2020, 11:57 AM:

TomB 623: Nah, I can picture an AR-15 covered in brocaded pads, presumably with plastic slipcovers.

OtterB 624: Well, this year, many of us highly-social types are suffering from insufficient others!

#627 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 12, 2020, 12:14 AM:

Cadbury Moose @ 621: I was wondering if it was meat harvested from giant mutant king crabs -- I'm sure there was a cheapo movie about that sometime....

Xopher Halftongue @ 626: "For those not using bump stocks, our model comes with a built-in recoil pad! Available in camo and an assortment of tasteless colors."

#628 ::: Pfusand ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2020, 12:05 PM:

I spotted this exchange in Daily Kos:

Chemical irritants were figred

Those must be the new ones. The old ones were avocadogreen.

My kingdom for a copy predator.

You should prey for one.

#629 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 13, 2020, 07:03 PM:

Ribbon if we ever get to go to cons again: "Prey for the copy predator!"

#630 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2020, 12:00 PM:

Inverting @518 et al., Eason's sequel How the Multiverse Got Its Revenge (p66):
Perhaps the turing was martialing patience, or reconsidering Thorsdottir's edibility, or deciding whether or not to short out her suit's life support.
The author and copyeditor may have been thinking of this as a militaristic scenario (the scene is aboard a warship disguised as a smuggler), but it reminds me of the line "God give me patience -- right now!."
I found (while reading for pleasure) another indication of sloppy copyediting (a word obviously missing), but the biggest irritant in this book is the chronicler who's supposed to be writing this umpteen years later and keeps interjecting teasers/spoilers -- like a demented Clippy, or a Paarfi of Roundwood who is even worse than the latest version we've met. A pity, as I loved the way the first book gleefully smashed both roles and genre boundaries instead of trying to do classroom explanations of them. (I'm looking at you, Five Twelfths of Heaven.)

#631 ::: Sunflower ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2020, 03:20 AM:

Michael I @625: 'The headline for a recent item in the "Daily News Briefs" collection at the Census Bureau said that Black Americans were more venerable to the Holiday Blues.'

Perhaps it was merely a typo, and they were referring to Lady Day?

Xopher @629: I'd add that ribbon to my badge.

#632 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 16, 2020, 10:54 AM:

I found another "free reign" today, but in the context it makes a nice pun. From the Cat-A-Day calendar: "Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette reportedly gave their Angoras free reign of the Palace of Versailles. ... the breed certainly looks regal".

#633 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2020, 10:25 AM:

Returning to his routes

#634 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2020, 06:43 PM:

Erik Nelson @633:

Presumably a letter carrier after holiday?

#635 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2020, 11:10 AM:

"Topian" as the opposite of "Dystopian"

#636 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2020, 01:46 PM:

"Water mane break." I guess a water mane is what we used to call a rooster tail?

#637 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2020, 09:25 AM:

Xopher@636 Water mane break

I guess the horse likes to swim?

#638 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2021, 11:41 AM:

Michael I @ 637: maybe the horse will learn to swim? (Yes, I know they mostly do; I grew up in the atmosphere of Misty and the Wild Ponies of Chincoteague.)

#639 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2021, 02:57 PM:

"societal morays"

#640 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2021, 07:11 PM:

TomB @639: Sounds like some of Wodehouse's abominable aunts.

#641 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2021, 08:50 PM:

It's from a book review. [The author's] "poking around the edges of societal morays is quite fun to read." Personally, I would never recommend poking morays, societal or not.

#642 ::: Rainflame ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2021, 12:28 AM:

"starch conservatives"
maybe the starch stiffens their spines?

#643 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2021, 11:51 AM:

CHip 638: You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it swim?

TomB 639; Joel 640: Or like every toff ever depicted on Midsomer Murders.

Rainflame 642: What spines?

I think a starch conservative is either someone on a low-carb diet, or someone who likes their shirts very soft and flexible.

#644 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2021, 12:53 PM:

Xoper @643 re: "What spines?"

Think sea urchin.

#645 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2021, 11:05 PM:

Joel 644: Oh. Fair enough!

#646 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2021, 08:55 PM:

From Rotherweird, with tautology:
She was a staple of Snorkel's evening soirées, and surely a shoe-in for such a party.

#647 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2021, 02:25 PM:

Just saw "a successful breech of the Capitol Building." Yes, even when the Capitol comes feet first, it can be born.

#648 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2021, 06:26 PM:

And now I've just seen "a viscous attack on the Capitol."

People who make viscous attacks come to sticky ends.

#649 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2021, 12:36 PM:

Good shots! We can just hope that @648 will come true.

#650 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2021, 07:54 PM:

"public offender" where someone meant public defender

#651 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2021, 03:30 PM:

seen on twitter:
things aren’t always so blank and white

#652 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2021, 05:26 PM:

P J Evans (651): No, sometimes they have writing on them.

#653 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2021, 07:14 PM:

Some football blogger wrote that a play was a "hook-and-latter" play.

#654 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 27, 2021, 01:09 PM:

Found on a neighborhood Book of Face page: "[YYY state] doesn't accept hologram wills" which suggests a whole new sort of whodunnit will-reading scene applicable in the states that did.

#655 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: January 30, 2021, 04:24 PM:

"This is your Emergency Holographmmic Bearded First Officer."

#656 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2021, 01:59 PM:

Heard on NPR: "When you let Pandora out of her box"

#657 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2021, 02:27 PM:

Nancy 656: That's the little box on the side of the computer where the music comes out, right?

#658 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2021, 06:04 PM:

Pandora's box: you can't tell if the hope at the bottom is a blessing or a curse, and until you look, it's both.

#659 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2021, 09:15 PM:

That's a good one, Joel.

#660 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2021, 11:51 AM:

Joel Polowin @658: That's just given me a good chuckle - thank you!

#661 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 04, 2021, 07:45 PM:

Just saw "putting the onerous on" in the wild.

#662 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2021, 11:55 AM:

Saw "heroine addict" again. I guess those are people who will read or watch anything with a female main character?

#663 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: February 08, 2021, 06:22 PM:

Heroine Addict was the name of a comics fanzine back in the day.

#664 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2021, 02:34 PM:

Allan 663: That's extremely cool. I hadn't known that.

#665 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 09, 2021, 02:34 PM:

Allan 663: That's extremely cool. I hadn't known that.

#666 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2021, 12:57 PM:

What happened to 'woven'?

#667 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 21, 2021, 09:12 PM:

Mary Aileen 666: Analogic change. Thrive/throve/thriven is already gone, and dive/dove/dove isn't long for this world.

Can't stop the tide, but you're allowed to be sad when it wrecks your sand castle.

#668 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2021, 12:04 PM:

Not to mention "shined". That one's appearing in headlines and captions, so I think "shone" is completely lost.

IMNSHO, the only place for "shined" is when you've done nice things to your shoes. Otherwise, I hatesss it.

#669 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2021, 01:24 PM:

I'd thought that "shined" would be used in reference to a mobster killing.

#670 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2021, 04:08 PM:

I differentiate between the transitive and intransitive uses for shine. If you transitively made something shiny, "shined" is fine. If something did its own intransitive shining, "shone".

#671 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2021, 04:09 PM:

I differentiate between the transitive and intransitive uses for shine. If you transitively made something shiny, "shined" is fine. If something did its own intransitive shining, "shone".

#672 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2021, 06:35 PM:

Bill 670: Yeah, that feels right. "I shined up the finish on my car" and "The sun shone," but not *"I shone up the finish on my car."

#673 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2021, 10:50 AM:

Bill Stewart #670:

I was trying to make that distinction but had a senior moment vocabulary fail--all too frequent occurrence these days. (Was thinking of it in terms of "subject did x with no object" and "subject did y to object".)

And yes, I shined up my cooktop the last time I did the kitchen--after which it shone like crazy.

#674 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2021, 03:27 PM:

This was done on purpose, but I thought it might amuse. Got it via Helen Ault on FB: "A malapropism walks into a bar, looking for all intensive purposes like a wolf in cheap clothing, muttering epitaphs and casting dispersions on his magnificent other, who takes him for granite."

#675 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2021, 11:09 AM:

Xopher Halftongue @674: I love it!

#676 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2021, 07:26 PM:

I'm betting this was autocorrupt, but it's too good not to share:

I just saw someone tweet "during a panini" (instead of 'pandemic')

#677 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2021, 09:08 PM:

Mary Aileen @676: It might not have been a mistake at all! There's a growing trend of replacing "pandemic" with other words, knowing they'll be understood. It's in a similar vein to when we talk about that British actor, Cummerbund Bandersnatch.

#678 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2021, 09:51 PM:

Em (677): I did not know that. Cool!

#679 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: March 12, 2021, 11:14 AM:

Em 677: I adhere to the entirely apocryphal belief that his middle initial is Q, and call him Benebatch Cumberdick.

#680 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2021, 11:35 AM:

Found in a newspaper article: "crumble up a piece of paper"

#681 ::: Singing Wren ::: (view all by) ::: March 14, 2021, 01:50 PM:

joann @ 680:

Instructions for making confetti?

#682 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 15, 2021, 01:04 PM:

If it's high-acid paper from the 1920s or 30s (and possibly later) it's actually pretty easy to crumble -- it's been subject to slow-motion burning long enough to be very brittle, unless it was kept oxygen-free. I've frequently had pages crumble as I turn them....

#683 ::: Rainflame ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2021, 01:04 AM:

This is something I see a lot in recipes or diet advice...
from an article on reducing carbs, "Swap noodles for spiralized turnip".
To me that's backward. It is basically saying use noodles instead of turnip, but they mean the opposite.

#684 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2021, 07:42 AM:

Rainflame, that would make sense to me with a slight change: "Swap out noodles for spiralized turnip."

#685 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2021, 08:48 AM:

And now I'm wondering what a spiralized turnip is...

<googling> Huh. Ok. Is this a thing, now? I'm having flashbacks to the old late-night Ronco commercial: "It slices! It dices! It makes julienne fries!"

#686 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2021, 11:44 AM:

It's a kind of shredder that makes very long shreds - like an apple peeler, but for cylindrical stuff.

#687 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2021, 03:48 PM:

I'm sure this a spell-check error, as I think about it, from a local butcher/wine shop: "All their wines are vilified without ANY sulfur, and are never fined or filtered."

It's nice to know that the vilifying comments aren't sulfurous, at least -- that would be adding to the insult. And the alternative meaning of "fined", referring to removing dregs, becomes much less obvious with the error of "vilified" for "vinified". (FireFox doesn't like "vinified" either -- it is a good word, though, for what he's describing.

#688 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2021, 12:11 PM:

"gives into" instead of "gives in to"

#689 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: March 20, 2021, 10:28 PM:

(gender-neutral form of "gringo")

(You're a mean one, Mr. Gringx...)

#690 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2021, 02:04 AM:

"gringx" is an awesome term.

What do you make of "spacex"?

#691 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 23, 2021, 11:38 AM:

I agree; 'gringx' is awesome. Props to whoever came up with it.

#692 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2021, 07:11 PM:

A headline says that a sexual harrasser "came onto her" when they seem to mean "came on to her"

#693 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2021, 02:05 PM:

@692: "There's more death done in bedrooms than in alleys. And why not? A man in a dark alley's thinking what might come upon him, while a man in a dark bedroom is thinking -- well, round about opposite." (an assassin in a complicated bedroom in the play in John M. Ford's "The Illusionist" (the last part of Casting Fortune)

#694 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2021, 05:57 PM:

TFW somebody on Twitter argues and argues that "you have another thing coming" is the only correct version and this "think" thing is just an aberration.

And when he tells you that he's your own age and has been teaching high school English, which you guess was supposed to prove he was an authority on these matters.

When he ignores you saying he's probably been hearing both versions but, since the k in 'think' usually wouldn't be released in that position, at least in America in casual speech.

TFW you just want a nap if that's OK.

#695 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2021, 06:17 PM:

That other feeling when he comes back and says "please don't think I'm arguing, I'm just astonished." For some reason, this makes you feel better.

#696 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2021, 10:49 PM:

Belated April-Fool's action: some SCA herald or heralds with entirely too much time on their hands has/have assembled documented blazons that sound out the first verse of "Barrett's Privateers".

#697 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2021, 08:36 PM:

From someone who routinely mispronounces words comes
Brandy sifters.

I was a bit croggled as to what one would use to sift brandy and what the expected result would be.

#698 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2021, 09:52 PM:

You'd use something like one of those glass-thread pieces from Olvera Street.

#699 ::: SunflowerP ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2021, 02:27 AM:

Lin Daniel @697: I can't help but be sympathetic; my laptop has a cranky N key, and I have lately had occasion to type 'snifter' several times (a spot of informal copyeditorial commentary for a friend).

#700 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2021, 06:56 AM:

Em #677:
There's a growing trend of replacing "pandemic" with other words, knowing they'll be understood.

For a long time the site NotAlwaysRight was censoring the word "COVID", presumably in hopes of squelching misinfo-spam. The regulars there have a long tradition of kicking back at NAR's censorbot; they've called the plague a bunch of things, but a lot of folks settled on "CoVoldemort".

#701 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2021, 09:02 AM:

wrt the discussion above on aspirates, a coincidence:
* I was reminded of this discussion by a comment somewhere yesterday (not in any ML I find) and thought to myself that I'd never heard it even though I've been talking to adults a generation or more younger than I am. (The commenter said pronouncing "wh" as "w" was common (standard?) for younger speakers.)
* This morning's NPR oral puzzle involved answering clues by changing a vowel in a word of the clue; #10 was an example of this nonaspiration-and-voicing. I'd wonder about the puzzle poser being lazy, but I haven't previously caught Shortz letting through something this obvious.

#702 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2021, 10:16 AM:

CHip, pronouncing wh as w has been common in large parts of the English-speaking world for generations. Since you listen to NPR, I suppose you don't live in Scotland or Ireland. Are you in the southeastern United States?

#703 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2021, 11:13 AM:

I get reminded every time I see "Whales" instead of "Wales".

#704 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2021, 11:16 AM:

@Chip, I'm one of the few people I know who consistently (but not exclusively; I've found it's at least a little situational) pronounces "which" and "witch" differently. I do aspirate my wh's. But to my ear, most of the people around me do not. I live near Chicago.

#705 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2021, 01:33 PM:

I aspirate the Wh in my last name consistently, and it reminds me to do so other places. "Which" and "witch" are a strong minimal pair for that difference, for me.

Today I read an article about the use of martial language in Japanese newspaper rooms -- the translator consistently used "marshal" instead of "martial", but any simple excerpt wouldn't show that as being an error. So I mention it rather than trying to show the usage.

#706 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2021, 03:44 PM:

One of my early elementary teachers (might have been the perennial substitute), a woman near retirement, made a point of insisted that we aspirate 'wh' (although she didn't say 'aspirate'.) This was the early '70s, in suburban Atlanta. So it was already partially disappearing by then, but still a Thing.

I mostly don't aspirate the 'wh', unless I'm trying to distinguish which/witch or Wales/whales or otherwise speaking clearly and distinctly.

#707 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2021, 07:04 PM:

Seen in a forum: "That's my two sense worth."

#708 ::: Debra Bourne ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2021, 07:18 AM:

Seen in a discussion on metric vs Imperial measurements for running races: "50K is totally a think!"

I would dismiss it as a typo, but G and K are separated on the keyboard by H and J. Which suggests that the writer has only ever -heard- 'that's a thing' or 'totally a thing', never seen it written, and has mis-heard it.

#709 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2021, 08:39 AM:

@708 To be fair, I'm a fast touch-typist and I typo "think" for "thing" and vice-versa on a regular basis. I think my fingers get ahead of my thoughts....

#710 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2021, 10:27 AM:

Mary Aileen 706: She didn't call it aspiration because it isn't aspiration. Aspirated W doesn't exist in English or any other language I know of. It's just a different sound, a bilabial fricative instead of a glide.

That said, I'm sure lots of prescriptive sources call it aspiration, as they do the complex set of consonantal relationships in Irish. So I will subside, grumbling in Linguist, and not try to get people to stop using it in this thread.

Cassy 709: Me too.

#711 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2021, 11:28 AM:

A guess: the front page displays only posts from the last year, and that's why there are just two.

#712 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2021, 11:29 AM:

Oops — wrong thread...

#713 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2021, 03:06 PM:

Xopher (710): She didn't call it an aspiration because I doubt she knew the word as it applied to linguistics, and she had definitely never heard of a bilabial fricative. Her students (age about 9 at the time) certainly hadn't!

#714 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2021, 05:22 PM:

Mary Aileen 713: Honestly, what are they teaching in grade schools these days? Why teach the kids to make the sounds if you don't teach them their names?!?!? A voiceless bilabial trill ("Bronx cheer") to that!

Seriously, the WH sound is strictly a school sound for me. I use it when I'm actively trying to sound stuffy (as one of many vocal traits I adopt; it doesn't sound stuffy by itself), and otherwise which/witch are homophones for me.

#715 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2021, 08:18 PM:

And from a local for-sale group on Facebook comes a live example from CHip's NPR quiz:

Selling a kids will chair

Someone has not only the wine-whine merger but also the fill-feel merger.

#716 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2021, 11:08 AM:

A will chair is the one in the corner that you make them sit in when they're being willful.

#717 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2021, 11:10 AM:

Seen elsewhere:


Presumably they were desperate for money?

#718 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2021, 06:00 AM:

I thought a will chair was what Metron traveled in.

#720 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2021, 03:21 PM:

And a few more.

#721 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2021, 10:50 PM:

Allan Beatty @ 702: I could have listened to NPR from anywhere on the globe; they have a website, which I use so I can get the news right after I wake up instead of waiting for it to come around. But I live in Boston, and have for half a century, after spending 13 of my first 14 near DC and some of the balance in western New England. I guess I'll have to listen with unprocessed ears to see whether this compression happens locally.

Xopher @ 710: I've just spent a minute trying out "wh" and "w" words; to me they both lead by blowing through almost-closed lips, with the difference being whether or not the vocal cords are active. Is that not the definition of aspiration? I don't know how a glide would sound like "wh", but I'm not sure what forms a glide can take.

A new dreadfulness: IIRC in Tana French's second novel, discussion of a "large marquis" to be used in case of bad weather. I can imagine a truly overdone spellchecker coming up with this, but my guess is it was her probably-English-or-Irish first editor or copyeditor. Said processors meantime left in at least one unlikely Americanism, a Dublin-based police officer thinking about the "mother stabbers and father rapers" she deals with every day in her Domestic Violence assignments. French grew up in western New England (although a ways north of Stockbridge), so I can imagine that phrase sticking -- but I really wonder whether it would be used by a Dubliner four decades after the heyday of "Alice's Restaurant Massacree". (There was at least one other unlikely-looking usage that I unfortunately didn't note.) Has anyone heard of the Group W Bench being known across both the pond and a generation?

#722 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2021, 12:50 AM:

I just referenced "I shall write a letter to The Times" in an online game I play, and at least one person actually got it. And The Goon Show came up at an online seminar I was attending....

#723 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2021, 01:26 PM:

CHip 721: Aspiration is normally applied to stops, and in English only to unvoiced stops (p, t, k). It's a little puff that comes after the release of the stop. It's not there after s (again, in English); you can test it by holding your hand in front of your mouth and saying "Pit, spit." The p in 'pit' is aspirated; the one in 'spit' is not.

A glide is a vowel, greatly shortened and functioning as a consonant. Like all English* vowels, it is voiced (vocal chords vibrating). W is the vowel in 'food', shortened in this fashion. Contrast that with the second consonant in Spanish 'Habana'/'Havana', which is a bilabial fricative (lips pressed together enough to make a friction-like sound, with vocal chords active).

The school pronunciation (no doubt from someone's native dialect, just not mine) of wh starts with something more like an h, but closes to a voiceless bilabial fricative.

If wh were an aspirated w, it would be a glide followed by a puff of air. I'm not saying that couldn't happen, but it doesn't happen in English.

*Mario Pei very much to the contrary, this is NOT a language universal, as anyone who has taken a single week of Japanese well knows. Well, maybe a few weeks.

#724 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2021, 09:35 PM:

I don't know if it counts as a Dreadful Phrase, but I was surfing through the sf/f/h books at Kobo's site and found one that was volume 5 of a duology.
I think they need to rephrase that....

#725 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2021, 05:02 PM:

Glutens for punishment.

This only works on the gluten intolerant.

#726 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2021, 10:36 AM:

"I shutter to think" - of all the people who don't know the difference between shuttering and shuddering.

#727 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2021, 08:00 AM:

"Grading is done under special lighting and with magnifying glasses and other tools to really put a card through the proverbial ringer." (from an article about the dire state of the market for high-end Pokémon cards). ISTM plausible that the ~30yo author has never seen a wringer and has no idea what it is, giving them slightly more excuse than @726's example (since shutters are at least a decorative item even on some new houses).

#728 ::: Debra Bourne ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2021, 12:28 PM:

This error paints a wonderful image: "Notice that when you sit up straight and arch your back, your head comes up directly under your shoulders."

#729 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2021, 01:12 PM:

The only ringer I can think of that's close to being proverbial would be the Hunchback of Notre Dame. I hope they're not putting their cards through him.

#730 ::: Debra Bourne ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2021, 12:33 PM:

It is, I think, fitting to provide this link: Typo negative: the best and worst of Grauniad mistakes over 200 years

#731 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2021, 11:47 PM:

I gave myself an attaboy for hitting the mute button before laughing when the person I was talking to said, "I don't understand why they have a lazy fair attitude". This was said in a severely judgmental sneer about kettles from someone who looks remarkably like a pot.

#732 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2021, 07:19 PM:

Verbally, so making a guess at the spelling: "the whole shoe bang"

#733 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2021, 07:19 PM:

Verbally, so making a guess at the spelling: "the whole shoe bang"

#734 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2021, 07:20 PM:

Verbally, so making a guess at the spelling: "the whole shoe bang"

#735 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2021, 07:22 PM:

Sorry. On my phone.

#736 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2021, 09:15 PM:

There was a genre author several decades ago who observed that the problem with most portrayals of variations is that the old-shoe lover loves loving old shoes.

#737 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2021, 08:47 PM:

Just saw "Seeking sworded love affair." This may have been a deliberate joke.

#738 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2021, 07:51 AM:

Xopher #737 I saw that one too, and took it as a deliberate joke, or perhaps a call-out to a potential partner who enjoyed both wordplay and fencing / SCA activities.

#739 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2021, 02:37 PM:

There's an old story about an underground-paper personal ad (or in some versions, somebody threatening to post a personal ad): "We are six looking for a seventh for F&SF."

#740 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2021, 05:13 PM:

CHip 739: That sounds like they may be looking for an author.

#741 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2021, 04:29 PM:

A friend says she saw a crime report that said police were looking for "a white Sudan."

Goddam colonizers.

#742 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2021, 11:55 PM:

Hereabouts, the messages that go out for Amber alerts are auto-transcribed from speech to text, for distribution by you-can't-override-this TV displays and phone devices. The transcriber mangles non-Western names, and can't even manage some vehicle type names. So the emergency messages that get blasted on top of TV programs, and spammed to phones, in areas that aren't even plausibly in range for kidnappers and their victims... misidentify them a lot of the time.

I've sent complaints about this to the various organizations involved (or who ought to be). Some of them point to each other. The rest don't reply. Some responses are obviously canned, and reference the social urgency of distributing Amber alerts by these means. They clearly don't get the "I'm complaining mostly about the misinformation" element of my messages.

#743 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2021, 11:40 AM:

Today Brian Lehrer misspoke and said "anthropods" when he meant "arthropods."

Now that's a scary visual.

"It looks like at least four people were here."
"I agree. So with the exsanguination, you're thinking vampires?"
"Well, that would seem the obvious AAAARRRGGH!" *snap*
"Oh, no, they fooled us! ANTHROPODS!! AHHHHHHH!"

#744 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2021, 12:42 AM:

Anthropods? Something's a foot!

#745 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2021, 10:47 AM:

Xopher @ 740: at least they don't claim to be Enrico IV.

#746 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2021, 06:50 PM:

Something about "anthropods" would be more in the line of Enrique Borgos. Bug-Man of Barrayar.

#747 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2021, 11:28 AM:

From a description of a movie the writer is trying to place: characters are sidling along a narrow ledge above above a volcano, and one of them "nearly falls into the larval below."

There, but for a rhotic dialect, go I.

#748 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2021, 02:00 PM:

"The Very Hungry Volcano"?

#749 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2021, 03:44 PM:

P J 748: There was some speculation that the movie in question was Dragon Slayer, where the baby dragons eat the Princess, but there was no volcano in that one.

#750 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2021, 11:30 AM:

Neighborhood non-technical type on what her provider did when her fiber stopped working: "They accelerated the problem".

It would have been so appropriate if the provider in question had been the one that used to(?) use the Roadrunner mascot. They were not.

#751 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2021, 05:43 PM:

Seen in the wild: "You should cut all tides."

#752 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2021, 05:26 PM:

rant about a recurring awfulness, triggered by a current instance: have specific forms for the imperfect tense been declared obsolete? Case in question was "he sunk", not "he sank" (correct from context) or "he has sunk"; I've seen "sing" and even "swim" similarly abused. Unfortunately, just awful without being funny -- unlike entries above.

#753 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2021, 08:10 PM:

And past tense is not "may have". Seen that far too often, along with "lead" as past of "lead".

#754 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2021, 10:22 PM:

Just saw a note from a writers' group in which the author has decided that apostrophes don't matter: regularly using "were" for both "we're" and "were". A fine case of private laws which do not improve comprehension (especially for non-native speakers!) but make it easier for the writer: one less character to type!

#755 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2021, 05:13 AM:

Tom @#754

Their editor/proofreader needs a bigger whip (or to crank up the voltage on the cattleprod).

Just sayin.

#756 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2021, 11:11 AM:

Mite s wel go fuly fonetik. R Twidner stile.

#757 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2021, 12:52 PM:

I'm poking at the idea of writing a YA novel in which the elvish characters' formal names are something of a lineage back to the most recent notable ancestor. They're commonly addressed or referred to by a single syllable from their personal name, delimited as necessary by apostrophes of elision. So, for example, Galadethtirnan would be addressed as “Gal’ ” or “ ’Lad’ ”. Not to be confused with apostrophes of quotation, which would be properly paired.

(That name in particular will be a bit hard on the brain of the human character who joins them, as the elvish character, at merely 50 years old, hasn't decided yet whether they will be male or female.)

#758 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2021, 02:17 PM:

Joel: I'd say that just "Lad" would work a lot better for most readers (including me) than "'Lad'".

#759 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2021, 10:46 AM:

@752, I play a stupid little phone game (plants vs. zombies) and it has embedded advertisements. One of them is for Amazon; it has a teaser for a book that apparently starts, "He fought the men, and he slayed the monsters, and at last...." blah blah blah.

Slayed the monsters? Not slew? Makes my teeth clench every time this ad comes up....

#760 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2021, 06:06 PM:

Joel Polowin #729: The only ringer I can think of that's close to being proverbial would be the Hunchback of Notre Dame.

... who apparently is also the referent of Debra Bourne #728!

#761 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2021, 04:13 PM:

TomB @ 756: or go back further by using G. B. Shaws's conventions (which specifically included omitting apostrophes in contractions).

Cassy B @ 759: I understand people having trouble with irregular past tenses -- but knowing one ("fought") and not the other is indeed grating.

#762 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 30, 2021, 04:56 PM:

Treaded instead of trod.

#763 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2021, 01:49 PM:

Analogic change converts seldom-used irregular forms to the regular form, because people really forget the irregular ones. Whether the new regularized usage becomes dominant is anybody's guess.

But I'm old. I remember when 'feudal' and 'futile' were homophones (in at least some American dialects, including my native one). Locutus changed that forever.

#764 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2021, 04:00 PM:

Or, worse, present tense being "trod".

#765 ::: Angiportus Librarysaver ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2021, 10:29 AM:

Recently sighted in the wild:
"It won't pause any problems", "we came within a hair's inch", and then there was someone talking about aliens and their "annal probes".

#766 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 06, 2021, 01:01 PM:

"Harvey Keitel Credits His Marriage Of 20 Years To Robert De Niro"

First parsed as "Harvey Keitel Credits His (Marriage Of 20 Years To Robert De Niro)" rather than "(Harvey Keitel Credits His Marriage Of 20 Years) To Robert De Niro".

#767 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2021, 01:44 PM:

Angiportus 765: Isn't the probing of annals a pretty standard research method?

#768 ::: Angiportus Librarysaver ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2021, 06:35 PM:

Well, yes, but not all of us want aliens probing ours.

#769 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2021, 05:14 PM:

Just saw "if the run it is from a cow."


#770 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2021, 01:05 PM:

Xopher: that would make crossing a pasture ... interesting (in a variety of senses).

#771 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2021, 12:54 PM:

Cow pies make crossing a pasture an interesting event under optimal conditions. They're a sticky mess that quickly develop a top crust that makes them look like they're dry and safe to step on.

My first boss, who was head of the Carleton U chemistry department, also raised cattle. Once, he explained the limits of meaningful precision in measurements to me. When he was moving cattle by truck, each one had to be weighed to the nearest pound (IIRC)... which was nonsensical, since if it crapped, it would lose about five pounds just from that.

#772 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2021, 12:39 AM:

I just saw "hordevours".

It sorta makes more sense than hors d'oeuvres.

#773 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2021, 11:26 AM:

Allan Beatty: I wonder if that was a conscious joke -- because it makes so much sense!

#774 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2021, 05:40 PM:

The only times I've had to deal with them they were old and thoroughly dried out. Still had to watch out, because lumpy objects are not good to step on.

#775 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2021, 11:02 AM:

Joel Polowin #771:

Back in my pre-salad days, when I went to summer camp every year, a big feature was the overnight campout, in those days a pretty primitive operation where we took bedrolls and not much else and settled down in a field belonging to the farmer across the road. Only problems were, it was already after dark, and the field was normally populated by cows. Given the operation was run by the YWCA, there were words you weren't supposed to use, but I think I learned all of them.

#776 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2021, 11:07 AM:

Allan and Tom:

It's definitely an old joke, at least in this family unit, pronounced "Whores devours"; 50s-style exemplars are actually a specialty of mine.

#777 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2021, 08:18 PM:

Tom and Joann, I don't think this writer was that clever. It was the sort of amateur fiction where the characters are frequently striping (sic) off their clothes.

#778 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2021, 10:56 AM:

Striping off your clothes: self-flagellation?

#779 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2021, 10:35 AM:

Local, dreading the need to repaint the inside of her house: "the very thought perishes me!"

#780 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2021, 04:46 PM:

Just saw a list of drinks that included "sweat tea." Not very appealing IMO.

#781 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2021, 09:38 AM:

Xopher @ #780

Is that where they make it with an old sock instead of an infuser (or a tea bag)? ITWSBT.

#782 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2021, 12:38 PM:

Cadbury Moose @781: "I pride myself on attention to detail."

#783 ::: dcb (Debra) ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2021, 03:15 PM:

@780: there's a hydration mix (to add to water for drinking during long runs etc.) in Japan called "Pocari Sweat"!

Recent gems culled mostly from FB posts:
"there is a lot of free reign on these"
"looking for gameful employment"
"I buried it from the library"
"Make your own flap Jack's" (okay, all the letters are correct in that one...)

#784 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2021, 04:05 PM:

dcb (783):

"looking for gameful employment"
As a game designer?

#785 ::: dcb (Debra) ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2021, 04:43 PM:

Mary Aileen @784: I don't think so - the person in question is a car mechanic by trade!

#786 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2021, 06:27 PM:

dcb (785) Pity. If they wanted to work in gaming, it would be a clever turn of phrase rather than a dreadful one.

#787 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2021, 08:45 PM:

Free dishes left on the curb with a sign:
"free plates and bowels"

#788 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2021, 12:20 AM:

"rare first additions bound in leather"

#789 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2021, 06:21 PM:

@788, a first-grader's curated math homework, lovingly hand-tooled...

#790 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2021, 07:33 AM:

Could go with the bronzed baby's-first-shoes. (Is that still a thing? I remember many ads for make-money-in-your-spare-time schemes involving such, but I haven't heard about it in decades.)

#791 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2021, 07:56 AM:

A Queens resident has pled guilty to posting that "Warnock is going to have a hard time casting votes for communist policies when he’s swinging with the fish." One wonders whether the offender pictured Warnock in the Octopus's Garden, or perhaps in Tom Smith's version of the Bermuda Triangle.

#792 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2021, 10:56 AM:

Probably disappeared with leather baby shoes. (I have a bronzed shoe. Far from my first one, judging by size.)

#793 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2021, 04:43 PM:

CHip @791: and here I was visualizing Monty Python’s fish-slapping dance.

#794 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2021, 06:12 PM:


ULTRA RARE Black Leopard Spotted In Indian Nature Reserve

(of course it's spotted. It's a leopard.)

#795 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2021, 08:17 PM:

It might have been a black-spotted leopard -- that would be a very rare leopard.

#796 ::: Angiportus Librarysaver ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2021, 10:08 AM:

All leopards have black spots. It's just that on the melanistic ones, the spots don't show up that well and can only be seen in certain lights because the background is almost the same color.
Same thing with jaguars. Melanism affects a lot of species, but a lot of times it is just dark brown, not pure black.
I never heard of a reverse pattern, dark with yellow spots, though that would be real neat.

#797 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2021, 08:35 AM:

Julie L @ 793: I love it -- a meaning of "swing" I'd completely missed.

To go with it, today's miscellany (a side effect of being so retro as to use Firefox for browsing) included 25 words that are their own opposites. Some are debatable (e.g., not-quite-opposite) but it's an interesting list; for extra credit, see how many you can come up with before clicking on the link.

#798 ::: Terry Hunt ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2021, 07:47 AM:

@#796 Angiportus Librarysaver – such patterns are sometimes used in the hyper-real constructions of Heraldry, which uses furs as alternatives to other plain or patterned colours.

The two real "Furs" depicted are Ermine and Vair, the first made from the winter coat of stoats – so white ("Argent") with black ("Sable") spots (the tail tips), and the second from the winter coats (only seen in certain localities) of red squirrels, with alternating tessellated bell-shapes of blue ("Azure") and white ("Argent") (the underbellies).

Naturally, heralds decided to riff on these natural colourations, so we also get Ermines – black with white spots, Erminois – gold ("Or") with black spots, and Pean – black with gold spots. Any other combination of a Metal (Or/gold/yellow and Argent/silver/white) and a Colour (anything not Or or Argent, but usually from a standard short list) can also be used if they are specified in the description ("Blazon").

The several named variations of Vair (which I won't bore you with) refer to different tessellation patterns rather than the tinctures, but again any metal/colour combinations can be used by specifying them in the Blazon.

There is a third Fur called "Potent", made of tessellated "T" shapes supposedly representing crutches – why this is classified as a Fur rather than as a mere field pattern I have no idea. Again, several variations in the tessellation pattern are named, and other tincture combinations beyond the default Argent and Azure can be specified.

In Continental European heraldry, further "Furs" made of various feather patterns apparently exist, but I've never encountered one in British or British derived heraldry.

Of course, in any variety of Heraldry, one may choose to blazon any creature, whether real (e.g. lion) or imaginary (e.g. dragon) as any tinctures one pleases, though certain conventions often apply.

#799 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2021, 10:49 AM:

Reminding me of the time when we were riffing on the description of the Libyan flag (starting point: a tricolor of green, green, and green).

#800 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2021, 01:22 PM:

Terry Hunt @798 -- In the SCA, I have what I believe is the shortest possible badge: "Or hurty", AKA "Or, semy of hurts". A "hurt" is a blue disk, intended to symbolize a bruise. So: gold/yellow with blue polka dots. I wasn't really intending to have it for myself, but the story of how I got it is somewhat complicated. And I failed to get the armory I really wanted because of multiple screw-ups by various heralds (three submissions misplaced), so I'm sticking with what I've got.

#801 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2021, 03:15 PM:

P J Evans @799:

Are you sure that Lybia wasn't: Vert, six bars vert, in canton vert 50 stars vert? You know, based on the US flag?

Joel Polowin @800:

A friend of mine from Northshield managed to get "or golpy", gold with purple polka-dots.

#802 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2021, 04:24 PM:

I don't think we got to that one. But it was a lot of fun.

#803 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2021, 04:28 PM:

(it was on this thread: )

#804 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2021, 03:31 PM:

I read real estate ads for entertainment and a little wish fulfillment. There are apparently a lot of "walking closets" in my area, but for the first time I ran across a "newly tainted wood deck and fence." Not sure that's a selling point.

#805 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2021, 08:33 PM:

Otter B@804

"walking closets"

For an apprentice version of Baba Yaga?

#806 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2021, 10:38 AM:

Michael I #805

Howl's Castle started small?

#807 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2021, 10:12 AM:

John McWhorter discussing problems with possible spelling reforms:
The International Phonetic Alphabet that linguists use actually does have a symbol for each sound, making spelling simple and straightforward. And in it, “The Great Gatsby” comes out as ðə grejt gætsbi. That looks less like something to read than to step on.
(The overall discussion is on methods of teaching reading, at

#808 ::: Debra Bourne ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2021, 11:45 AM:

CHip @807: "a symbol for each sound, making spelling simple and straightforward". The first thing I think about is the wide variety of pronunciations making a mockery of this! Quickest example: I pronounce "Mary", "marry", and "merry" totally differently from one another, but I understand that many people in the US do not. So who gets to decide this "simple and straightforward" spelling based on pronunciation?

#809 ::: Del Cotter ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2021, 03:50 PM:

As Debra points out, a spelling reform which spelled every word "exactly how it sounds" would turn the international English-speaking community into separate communities. A Geordie's edition of the book would require a different IPA spelling, to sound more like "The Greet Gutsby" to an American ear. Maybe the NYT article says that; I can't read it.

A less-destructive alternative to IPA would be to go by "lexical sets": so the Northern English pronunciation of TRAP and BATH words would be different from an American's, but the goal would be to insure that at least all TRAP words would be consistently spelled. Query: do TRAP words and BATH words get a different spelling to signal a distinction for those of us in Southern England with the TRAP/BATH split, or does that confuse children in areas with the TRAP/BATH merger?

I've seen a scheme intended to cover the whole English-speaking world of today in just 24 lexical sets. But still it comes up short: in Philadelphia, and only there, they have a TRAP/MAD split, not covered in that schema. And what about future mergers and splits? This spelling reform would not be future-proof. And so far we've only discussed the vowels.

#810 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2021, 09:37 PM:

The article was not really about spelling (except to mock the simplified-spelling promoters); I just liked that line. It was mostly about how phonics is a teaching system that works for everyone it has been tried on (and for every vocabulary -- the variations such as though/tough/cough/enough/plough/through get taught after the basics), as opposed to systems which are sometimes vaguely systemic and sometimes about as organized as Professor Hill's "Think System".

#811 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2021, 04:55 PM:

OK, there's this thing they call phonics now, and it may or may not be the same as what they called phonics when I was in first grade, but it was an ACTIVE DETRIMENT to me learning to read. One thing I clearly remember was that they used the same word, 'blend', to talk about clusters ('bl', 'dr') and about digraphs ('sh', 'ch'). These are not at all the same thing, and even in first grade I knew that, but I was confused.

Forty years ago, the studies of reading pedagogy had all come to the conclusion that all known methods of teaching reading were detrimental except one: reading aloud to the child where the child can see the book. Children largely learned to read despite being taught, not because of it.

There may be new methods now. What's called phonics may have become useful; after all, it's been 40 years. But English isn't remarkably phonetic in spelling, hence the joke "Hookt on fonix werked four me!"

And Del is absolutely right. English has too many dialects for "spell like it sounds" to be anything other than nonsense. There are already dialects that are privileged on the lexical and morphological strata, and "simplified spelling" would have to privilege dialects phonologically too. Even within the United States it would result in someone writing in Alabama being incomprehensible to someone reading in Michigan.

In speech you can allow for accent, and set up automatic conversions that let you understand someone who speaks a different dialect. This doesn't work nearly as well in writing.

#812 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2021, 08:45 PM:

"short sided" - a fence on the side of a hill? (At the utility company I worked for, it was meters on the same side of the street as the main.)

#813 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2021, 05:43 PM:

My mind's eye still has some memory of the phonics chart I was taught from 63 years ago; ISTR it taught digraphs but not clusters, and I don't remember confusion. I was at what I've been told was one of the originators of phonics (the school was used in a documentary/teaching film); the term may have ... broadened ... since then. I wonder about that study; it seems to endorse a variation of see/say, which was not found to be effective in other tests.

Returning to the official topic, this NPR headline: Tensions Over Use Of Klamath River Basin's Water Were Magnified By Draught. I remember the Columbia being breezy when I went up and down it 3 decades ago, but I didn't notice any parties in disagreement -- perhaps it was too busy rolling on to join in the troubles?

#814 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2021, 08:26 PM:

The Klamath river is in southern Oregon and northern California, and the Native Americans depend on it for food and water.

#815 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 11, 2021, 03:12 AM:

No, the tensions were magnified by draught beer. That always makes people more intense. Or perhaps a draught of whisk(e)y.

Perhaps the Oregon single malt that I heard Patrick refer to at a birthday party for Art Widner: "It's like Laphroig without the good parts. No, I tell a lie -- it's lapsang souchong scotch."

#816 ::: jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 13, 2021, 01:40 PM:

"Collaborating evidence."

Coworker has now used this phrase three times. Biting my tongue off resisting the urge to correct him.

#817 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2021, 04:39 PM:

jacque 816: If you think you can do it without being caught, take a screenshot of this tweet and leave it, folded, on his chair.

That is, if you feel kindly toward him. If he's a jackass, let him keep embarrassing himself. I assume you don't have the kind of work relationship where you can just take him aside and explain, or you would have.

Mnemonic: COLLABORATE (work together) contains the word LABOR (work).

#818 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2021, 07:13 PM:

Tom @ #815

Some years ago, this moose used to give relabelled bottles of hooch to selected friends (it began with a mishearing of Glenkinchie as Glen Kimchi and led to a bottle of Glen Kimchi (the Seoul Malt) arriving at this location). In the meantime, there was "Trouser Stiffener" (Wisniowka after a stair-party incident), "The MacAbre - Bearhugger's Finest Malt" (Springbank), "Bear Restorer - for the treatment of depressed bears" (Krupnik), and a few other things.

I think the Glen Kimchi would go nicely in your post.

Cadbury (who has a low opinion of Laphroaig: "strained through a pair of leather trousers that were dug out of a bog by Time Team", preferring the less-peaty lowland malts).

#819 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: September 27, 2021, 09:46 PM:

diffusing a bomb

#820 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2021, 01:37 AM:

Describing a hair color: "Her hair looks read, not blonde."

#821 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2021, 12:29 PM:

Describing a company changing its name from XYZ to ABC: "formally known as" XYZ

#822 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2021, 03:29 PM:

"give it a looksie"

That's 'look-see', or possibly 'look/see'.

#823 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2021, 03:52 PM:

P J Evans @ #821

Oh God (in this case it's Nyarlathotep) I keep running into this one at work, where franchise changes have riddled the "Business Code" list in the network database with that particular obscenity.

Hopefully the perpetrator has retired by now so that my corrections will stay in place.

#824 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2021, 05:12 PM:

also: "every once and awhile" - from someone who definitely should know better

#825 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: September 29, 2021, 07:14 PM:

Erik Nilson @819:

Are you sure that's wrong? I though SOP for many bomb squads was to carefully move the device to a safe location, and then diffuse it, using other explosives.

Usually much safer than trying to defuze it.

#826 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2021, 09:45 PM:

Another one:
on the death of a pet cat: "God's speed [name]"

#827 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2021, 08:09 PM:

I think this one may have been intentional: "who made you judge judy and executioner"

#828 ::: Del Cotter ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2021, 03:38 PM:

It was definitely intentional in Hot Fuzz:

#829 ::: Del Cotter ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2021, 03:42 PM:

It was definitely intentional in Hot Fuzz.

#830 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2021, 12:31 PM:

Xopher @817: That is an excellent explainer but—how to say this...?

The best likely outcome? In one ear and out the other. And also: this is someone whose speech is riddled with similar malapropisms. The speaker is aware, but apparently just doesn't have the fluency or precision of thought to access the correct word in the moment.

An intellect which is...bright but diffuse, maybe? Gets the connotational meaning but is foggy on the denotational meaning? I mostly let it roll. This one was just...particular.

#831 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2021, 10:22 AM:

In a discussion of how much Halloween candy to buy this year:

"I am weary of buying what I usually do".

#832 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2021, 02:33 PM:

In a story about relocating remains from a cemetery that's started to wash away:

The archeological team, including students, started their work last week and the first reinternments are expected to take place next spring.

(They repeated that misuse later in the story.)

#833 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2021, 08:50 PM:

Jacque 830: Oh well. That's the way it goes.

#834 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2021, 11:13 PM:

P J Evans @832 - The students will be back for a second term of work?

#835 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2021, 04:21 AM:

joann @831 I had to read that one a couple of times, since my initial reaction was, yes, I'm also weary of buying all the things I usually buy.

I stumbled over the opposite error once in a prayer I was reading aloud from a typed sheet at church. It should have read "Give us the grace to pray without growing weary," which was a reference to one of the scripture passages that had been read earlier. Instead, it read "...without growing wary." Which I read aloud before I recognized the typo, then had to fight a fit of giggles.

#836 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2021, 06:31 PM:

Headline about the Alisal fire:
Firefighters make progress coralling big California wildfire

(The subhead got it right, though: "corralling", killing my fantasy of firefighters turning it to rock)

#837 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2021, 07:52 PM:

More dreadfulness from the media:
How L.A. City Council used a new law and baned homeless encampments at 54 spots

I guess you can verb *any* noun.

#838 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2021, 04:21 PM:

Not really a dreadful phrase because I did it on purpose, but I just used 'wrup' as the past tense of 'wrap'.

#839 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2021, 05:34 PM:

I thought the past tense of wrap is "wropped".

#840 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2021, 07:19 PM:

P J Evans (839): 'Wropped' is the past perfect.

#841 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2021, 07:22 PM:

As in "I done wropped that package"?

#842 ::: Debra Bourne ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2021, 08:04 AM:

Return of the dreadful punctuation: "the crimes were as serious as terrorism because of the abuse of his role as a police officer, with Couzens likely to have used Covid powers to trick Everard into a car, using his police warrant card and handcuffs to restrain her, and his police belt to strangle her." I can't see how the warrant card would have been useful as a restraining device - to trick her into the car, yes.

#843 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: October 28, 2021, 05:50 PM:

Police Question Head of Anatomical Skeleton
Company After Bones of 500 People Discovered in Back Yard

Not a bad headline, actually, but if you only read the first few words, the image is of the police questioning the head of a skeleton

#844 ::: Terry Hunt ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2021, 12:23 PM:

On the (UK) BBC News website last week in a story (somewhat local to me) headlined 'Oil tanker runs aground off Isle of Wight', the tanker was described as being "wedged on a shingles bank".

I emailed their error-reporting address to point out that 'shingles' is a form of chicken pox, and by the next day it had been duly amended to "shingle". Didn't get an acknowledgement, though.

#845 ::: Debra Bourne ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2021, 02:36 PM:

Terry Hunt @844: I love it! I wonder how many people pointed it out to them.

#846 ::: Debra Bourne ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2021, 11:13 AM:

Description of an item on Amaz*n: "Material Composition: 100% Mixed"

C*ke poster advert: "Now made from 100% recycled plastics*" - My husband comments that he had always had his suspicions and knew there was a reason he never drank the stuff! (*May be slightly variant wording; working from my husband's memory)

#847 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2021, 11:24 AM:

I understand what they were trying to say, but this is not a well-framed headline:
"Bay Area woman mauled by bear in Tahoe while fighting cancer"

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