Lexicon

17 Feb 2013

Stupid Memes

Submitted by Karl Hagen
[UPDATED 2/19/13: added a few more comparisons, and by popular request, appended the list of non-a produce from WordNet.]

On Facebook today, I saw several people referring to a meme "Name a fruit or vegetable that does not contain the letter 'a'." with the comment "not that easy" above it. My immediate thought was that this was silly. Lots of non-a words occurred to me (cherry, lime, plum, beet, celery, turnip, etc., etc.)

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19 Sep 2009

Avast

Submitted by Karl Hagen
Arrrh, me hearies! Today be Talk Like A Pirate Day, on which day I be wantin' to answer a question that gentlemen o' fortune all o'er the briny blue ha' been askin' theyselves: what be the part of speech of avast?
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25 Jun 2009

Dasn't

Submitted by Karl Hagen
As dictionaries go, you can't get much better than that towering giant of lexicography, The Oxford English Dictionary. It's always the first place serious word lovers turn when they have questions about the origins or use of a word. Yet really serious logophiles know its limitations. There are certain instances where you need to supplement the OED with a specialist work.
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1 May 2009

Langue and Lingua Franca

Submitted by Karl Hagen
Writing in the New York Times, David Cohen meditates lyrically upon the differences between British and American English. Cohen uses these differences, especially individual words--loo vs. bathroom, bonnet vs. hood, car park vs. parking lot, etc., as a token of a larger cultural divide. He quotes Victor Katz, noting
There is the illusion that we speak the same language, but we really don't.
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17 Sep 2008

Tasty Relief

Submitted by Karl Hagen
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.
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