Right on! for the genericized noun

wordbrandsThis newspaper writer I’ve met notes: “MS Word kept capitalizing ‘laundromat.’ I checked, and Webster’s agrees. Westinghouse copyrighted it back in 1947. But. . . . really?” This led to this interesting discussion about all the words that, once upon a time, were capitalized because they were brand names but are not now:

App Store, Aspirin, Catseye, Cellophane, Dopp kit [I had to look this up, even though I’ve had one!], Dry ice, Escalator, Heroin, Kerosene, Lanolin, Linoleum, Mimeograph, Primal Therapy, Thermos, Touch-tone, Videotape, Yo-Yo, and Zipper.

And Dumpster Continue reading

Careful scrutiny of pleonasms & redundant phrases

I saw this handy list of pleonasms & redundant phrases. And what IS a pleonasm, you might very well ask?

Pleonasm (/ˈpliːənæzəm/, from Greek πλεονασμός pleonasmos from πλέον pleon “more, too much”) is the use of more words or parts of words than is necessary for clear expression: examples are black darkness, or burning fire. Such redundancy is, by traditional rhetorical criteria, a manifestation of tautology.

In this article, one can read George Carlin’s Department of Pleonasms and Redundancies.

But are all the words on the list that bad? I am going to make the case for keeping some of them, though NOT “three a.m. in the morning.” The inference, in most cases, is that by dropping one or more word, the sentence would be equally clear.
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Careful scrutiny of pleonasms & redundant phrases

I saw this handy list of pleonasms & redundant phrases. And what IS a pleonasm, you might very well ask?

Pleonasm (/ˈpliːənæzəm/, from Greek πλεονασμός pleonasmos from πλέον pleon “more, too much”) is the use of more words or parts of words than is necessary for clear expression: examples are black darkness, or burning fire. Such redundancy is, by traditional rhetorical criteria, a manifestation of tautology.

In this article, one can read George Carlin’s Department of Pleonasms and Redundancies.

But are all the words on the list that bad? I am going to make the case for keeping some of them, though NOT “three a.m. in the morning.” The inference, in most cases, is that by dropping one or more word, the sentence would be equally clear.
Continue reading

The right words that sound wrong

I was listening to someone speaking on TV, and he had said, “I had drank some coffee.” It was an extemporaneous utterance, not a prepared speech, so I gave him a pass. I know it’s drink/drank/drunk, but the general public thinks of “drunk” only as being inebriated.

There are words that are correct that just sound incorrect. It’s swim/swam/swum, but seldom have I heard the word swum. Grammar Girl has, helpfully Continue reading

June Rambling: Hal Holbrook; Marimba Queens

pinned on Pinterest by Roger Green (not me)

pinned on Pinterest by Roger Green (not me)

My denomination, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) voted for marriage equality at its General Assembly this month. “Ministers will be allowed to marry same-sex couples in states where it is legal.”

On the other hand, Freedom and Faith Coalition’s Road to Majority conference had an Obama figurine in the urinal.

CBS News Sunday Morning did a piece, Born this way: Stories of young transgender children. The ever-interesting Dustbury on Gender Confirmation Surgery.

Writer Jay Lake worked closely with Lynne Thomas, an Illinois-based librarian… to ensure that all his blog posts and essays would be saved for posterity. “Though this is a relatively uncomplicated task for his blog content, which he unambiguously owned, it gets problematic when you wade into the legal rights of preserving your social media presence. ‘You can’t just download Facebook content into an archive.’”

A cartoon from 2008, and still apt: A Concise History Of Black-White Relations In The United States.

Mark Evanier on O.J. Simpson trial nostalgia.
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November Rambling: Candy, Poetry, and 50 Shades

An Opinion Piece On A Controversial Topic. “Pretty awesome meta.”

Gettysburg Address at 150.

Heidi Boghosian joins Bill Moyers for a conversation on what we all need to know about surveillance in America. “Spying on democracy,” indeed.

The defense should not be permitted to refer to the prosecutor… as “the Government.” It might sound… prejudicial.

Texas Man Sued for Defamation by Fracking Company that Contaminated his Water Supply.

“You could get better if you wanted to.” “You should just try harder.” “You’re being lazy.” “You need to be more motivated.” “You’re so needy.”

Methodist Pastor Has 30 Days to Renounce His Gay Children or Be Defrocked; it’s a matter of right and wrong.

Always Go to the Funeral.

Exclusive excerpt from Art Spiegelman’s Co-Mix retrospective. Some lifetime ago, before Maus Continue reading

“Literally” – you are dead to me

I’ve tried, I really have. When Webster and other dictionaries, announced that the second definition of the word “literally” means “figuratively” – “My head literally exploded” – I had some difficulty with that. Still I tried to shoehorn this new meaning into my vocabulary. Alas, I have failed.

“Literally” served me well. When I wrote, “LOL, literally,” this meant that an audible chuckle erupted from me, not just that I found it quite funny.

I noticed that Arthur@AmeriNZ is not bothered by this. He says, correctly, “English is constantly evolving and changing, and it always has been. New words enter usage and old ones die out.” And so I noted at the time that it didn’t bother me. But the more I thought on it, the more I was irritated by the change.

So while using literally to mean figuratively may be OK (for some), what do I use when I REALLY, REALLY mean literally? How can I make this clear to the reader/listener?
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A is for Acronym plurals

Jaquandor, that fine Buffalo blogger, wrote about the acronym FUBAR, and how a writer had used it as FUBARed. FUBAR, in case you don’t know, means Fouled Up Beyond All Recognition, where F really represents some OTHER word.

“Here’s my thing: Isn’t FUBAR already past-tense? Can something really be FUBARed, when the -ed suffix has already been used in the F part of the FUBAR acronym? Seems to me that FUBAR covers all bases, in terms of tense.”

And I replied: “As fussy as I can be, the absence of the -ed SOUNDS wrong… As I think more on this, I HAVE heard FUBAR NOT as a past tense. ‘You really know how to FUBAR.” So the -ed isn’t always already present anyway, in my experience.”

This inevitably got me thinking about how an acronym, “an abbreviation formed from the initial components in a phrase or a word,” is made plural. From the Wikipedia: “it has become common among many writers to inflect acronyms as ordinary words, using simple s, without an apostrophe, for the plural. In this case, compact discs becomes CDs…
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