10 Oct 2008

Hot for Chronological Accuracy

Submitted by Karl Hagen
I have mixed feelings about Hotforwords. On the plus side, she's talking about language, she generally does some research, and she seems to have a clue about linguistic matters. (Oh, yeah, and she really is hot.) On the other hand, she confines herself to a fairly trivial form of etymology: stories about word origins shorn of historical linguistics. It also appears that her research is confined to looking things up in a few of the standard references (like the OED), and, more questionably, Wikipedia.
17 Sep 2008

Tasty Relief

Submitted by Karl Hagen
Topic: 
While driving in to work this morning, I head the reporter on NPR talking about a sense of "palatable relief" on Wall Street due to the bail out of AIG. After I finished snickering, for which elitism I will soon, doubtlessly, be punished by the law of prescriptive retaliation, I googled the phrase. It's not very common (only 100 g-hits as opposed to 8080 for 'palpable relief'), and a few are just accidental collocations crossing phrase boundaries, but clearly this is not unattested.
26 Aug 2008

Irregardless

Submitted by Karl Hagen
Contain your righteous indignation for a moment and consider the much-maligned word irregardless. There are two arguments typically advanced against it, usually together: first, that it is "not a word," and second, that it is a kind of double negative. The first claim is simply stupid. By any reasonable definition of what a word is, of course it's a word. Just because a word irritates you does not demote the utterance from wordhood.
28 Jun 2008

Those pesky pronouns

Submitted by Karl Hagen
Topic: 
Your high school English teacher always warned you about those ambiguous pronouns, but many of the examples she gave you probably weren't really ambiguous in a practical context. Here's one that is demonstrably ambiguous, but not, I think, for the reasons usually offered in high school textbooks. Language Hat grouses about an explanation offered by Dear Abby about the distinction between "burn down" and "burn up."
DEAR ABBY: Does a house "burn up" or "burn down"?

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