"One day, the people will want peace so badly that they will push the government aside."
-Dwight D. Eisenhower
"One day, the people will want peace so badly that they will push the government aside."
-Dwight D. Eisenhower
I need to stop getting my news from Yahoo!. And Yahoo! needs to take that stupid exclamation point out of its name. I tend to go there to check my mail, but I always end up scanning the headlines and occasionally get sucked in. Today, I had my choice between finding out how a half eaten sandwich can equal a half day at work, why Bono needs my advice on how to solve world hunger, or how the English language needs a "face-lift." Wow. Although I didn't take the bait and click on any of these links, I did wonder about the English language face-lift. My guess would be that it's about standardizing spelling, taking out exceptions to rules, and generally streamlining a rather haphazard writing system. It's the same thing that the Simplified Spelling Society is after.
With English becoming the new lingua franca, there is an obvious upside to it being easier to read and quicker to understand. And why make things difficult for ourselves with tricky rules and long-forgotten silent letters? It makes sense. It would be hard to implement now, but once the change was made and accepted it would be easier from here on out. The language would become more accessible to both native and non-native speakers, or in this case writers.
While it may seem tempting to standardize English, there are definite concerns. In Japan, they once felt it was impossible for an outsider to learn Japanese. When they encountered traders, they would learn whatever language these newcomers spoke. Japanese was too intricate and most important, too culturally linked. Since then, many have learned to speak Japanese. And lots of people learn English every day. English has become very useful as a common-ground language. It is the language that all the refs have to speak at the World Cup. But in addition to being a useful means of communication, language is of great historical importance. Old important documents would become as incomprehensible to future generations as Old or Middle English is to us, depending on how extensive the changes were. Each spelling indicates a place the word originated or how it entered into written word. There's a story there and a history and a tradition that is worth preserving. Another concern is that the effort involved in figuring out exactly what the standard would be and changing everything to meet that would be great. There is so much writing everywhere and more being written every second. A change would lead to confusion and would be expensive.
Although, it would be awfully nice to do away with spelling tests.
Apparently, there is a head tilt in Indian that roughly means "You are the enemy of intelligence." This is an amusing phrase and one that should be used more often. It would be even better to convey it through head-tilting. Just imagine the possibilities.
This evening I've been reaching out to fellow bloggers and when Chris asked me what I was up to, I replied that I was blog networking. He insisted the proper term is "blorking." That's right; you heard it here first. Chris has coined the term blorking. The blogosphere terminology just got uglier. I wasn't sure that was possible. On that note I'm going to continue
This article is about some athlete at the olympic games testing positive for doping. The Russians claim it was medication from a doctor who wasn't a team doctor, given to accelerate the healing of a foot injury. But all this is not the point. What struck me about this article is that the head of the biatholon committee in Russia had this to say:
"One has to admit that all should be blamed on our illiteracy and irresponsibility," he said.
....what? I'm sorry, she didn't mean to be doping, it's just that she never learned how to read. That's what's really at fault here. In fact the entire biatholon federation is apparently illiterate and irresponsible. Yeah, I can see how you don't need to be responsible to be put on skis and given a gun.
Speaking of guns, this is one of a string of entertaining quotes I have read recently. Yesterday, I read a transcript of an interview with Dick Cheney. Of course, he was talking about the recent shooting. When my coworker first told me the vice president had shot someone, I thought he was kidding. Anyway, Cheney had this to say:
"...We never had a vice president shoot someone before. Not since Aaron Burr--"
Amazing. I don't remember where I read that, but if I come across it again, I'll be sure to link to it for you.
Did you know that the English language has a Simplified Spelling Society? It was started around the turn of the century (19-20) and had a goal to make English an easier language to learn and understand through spelling simplification. They want the language to grow and change and have writing that better reflects the pronunciation. One of their arguments was that all our extra letters waste lots of paper and ink. Anyway, this group is still alive and well today. One of their current initiatives is the freespell, where people are incouraged to randomly change words in their writing to be closer phonetically. To signify this and let people know that it is not out of ignorance that they are making these errors/changes, they are to designate this with an "f" at the top of the paper and a corresponding footnote. So basically, put an F at the top and you have free reign to neglect spell check. Now don't get me wrong, this is not a bad idea, exactly. The language should continue to evolve and that includes the written form. And making it easier to learn would certainly be helpful. And it's true that a large scale initiative to make sudden changes would probably not succeed. However, neither will a few people with misspellings in their writing. Perhaps as blogs continue with loose grammar, abreviations, and a fast pace that is accepted as imperfect, this medium will help lanuage change. I never knew it existed before. They've chosen a hard place to enact change, however I wish them luck.
This morning, I was fascinated by the concept of shutters. I came to the conclusion that:
Shutters were once useful to houses, protecting the windows and keep the house warmer. As houses and windows evolved, there was no longer a need to close the shutters when the winds and storms came. However, people still put plastic shutters on the sides of their windows for decoration. Quite frankly, they look a little funny since they're quite useless, yet it looks a little funny without them too. Just like eyebrows. That's my thought of the day.
Greece pictures are up!! I have been starting to add comments, but they aren't done yet. I'll get to that this weekend.
You may note that one of the pictures is of Chris next to "Borf" graffitied on a cement planter. We just thought it was funny and took a picture. It turns out that there's an interesting story behind how it got there. Borf was a term in the 80's for getting kicked out of computer program suddenly. Recently an 18-year-old in DC took it as his word of rebellion and began "borfing" Washington. Borf was written in clever and not-so-clever ways all over the city. The Washington Post wrote a story on the borf phenomenon. Then it stopped for a couple months and when it started back up again, the culprit was discovered. The saga came to an end with the arrest of the borf artist last July, I believe. So what does this have to do with Athens, Greece? Well, during the two month hiatus, the kid went backpacking in Europe. Athens was one of his stops, so naturally, he borfed there too. And Chris and I happened upon this international borf. An interesting story for the strange little piece of graffiti we found.
How are you all doing? I'm doing fairly well this morning. After ditching my Greek books due to lack of time, I am back to learning Greek with a vengence and I have 3 weeks in order to do so. Wish me luck!
I finally got to meet my good friend's fiance on Friday. May I just say, he's awesome. I don't think I exactly knew what to expect beforehand, but once I saw them together and hung out with them, it clicked. It's like when you're finally told the answer to a question that you couldn't have answered yourself but once you know, it makes sense. Of course that's who her soulmate would be, they're perfect together. He's great and I'm sooo happy for her.
Although, we went to the MoMA and I would just like to note, for the record, that I'm not terribly impressed by the renovations. It's a box. Some of the little glimpses into the atrium with windows framing random stairs and galleries are worth the price of admission. Well, would have been worth the price of admission if I had gone on a day when you had to pay to get in. The art was, well, modern art, which is always hit or miss. The museum looked like a museum, a boxy museum, and was a bit of a let-down after all the to-do around the improvements. I know you were all waiting for this review with bated breath.
My weekend was quite relaxing and fun. I'm looking forward to this weekend since Chris will be back in the same time zone as I am. Okay kiddies, I hope you're all doing well and stay tuned for my next entry, subject yet to be determined.
Have you noticed how some common sayings that you hear but may not see as often in print as it is spoken, so it can be misinterpreted so easily? I was just writing and Microsoft Word told me that "winfalls" was wrong. I'm like, no it's not, winfalls, like when you win by getting something and it unexpectedly falls in your lap. It has made sense to me for so long and it's close enough that most likely no one would correct me if I said it. However, Word knows. It gives me that red squiggly line that lets me know I am in error. Windfalls works too, I suppose. And I feel a bit silly that I didn't know it earlier. I know there have been others but examples escape me at the moment. Perhaps you have some examples. What are sayings that you misheard for years? I don't mean song lyrics, but rather common idioms or expressions that you should know, but find out that you've been a bit off. I'm not the only one am I? Just curious.
According to Chris, Jai Lai originates from the Basques. Interesting.
The more you know...
Some of you may have read my post on the term "snollygoster." It is a fun word that a friend of mine found in the OED and it has been in my vocabulary ever since. It has recently come to my attention that this word was dropped from the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary. It looks like this decision may have been made in order to make room for new slang terms. We are losing great words from our speech and now from our dictionaries too. Are they really being replaced with equally valuable yet more relevant terms or is our collective vocabulary shrinking?
There was another entertaining word I was going to write about, but I forgot it. So instead, I'll write about snollygosters. Snollygoster is also a fun word. Just so you know. Okay, really, I just want to be the first result in Google for snollygoster because it's an entertaining sounding word that is underutilized. Snollygoster is a fantastic word to describe a corrupt politician, so it's good to know.
Scoff is a fun word and deserves some attention. How exactly do you scoff? It's a contextual thing really. There's nothing you can say that's scoffing; it's all in how you say it. If you flat out say scoff, "I scoff at thee!" you're not really scoffing. It's kind of joking and you're giving them the respect of saying your scoffing. True scoffing is kinda mean. I don't recommend it. Hmm, later I will come up with examples of scoffing. But they'll take explaining, because again, it's the context and not the content that matters in the scoff. So yeah, more on this later. You can scoff at people, authority, or even your food. In fact, you can scoff your food or scoff at your food. It's very tricky to tell whether you're inhaling it or insulting it.
I believe all the typos in recent posts have been corrected. Please enjoy my now-grammatically-correct weblog.
"blog is the worst word EVER omg/wtf/bbq/kfc"
Hehe. Courtesy of a Slashdot poster. Not an actual poster, it's not a sign or anything, but a person who posted on the site. Nevermind, you know what I mean. I know people who definitely feel this way and am somewhat inclined to agree myself. However, if not blog, then what? And how do you decide which word is aesthetically pleasing enough to become the hot new word? Until then, blog says what you mean just as well as any other, so I guess if it succeeds in its primary goal of accurate communication, I'm cool with it.
As per a suggestion, I have decided to start a survey on my blog. Since I do not know how to set up a decent survey on a blog with options you can choose and submit, please send responses by posting a comment to this entry. All resulting data will be shared and any money received through research grants will be likewise divided. Thank you for your participation.
How long must a nap be before it no longer falls under the category of "nap" and officially becomes a "sleep?"
What is the strangest law you have heard of?
Do you eat chili peppers or chile peppers?
Which words are fun to say regardless of their context?
Hmm, along that vein…
What's your favorite word?
What's your least favorite word?
What's your favorite curse word?
If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
Really, how much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck can't chuck wood? And why can't he? That just seems like false advertisement.
Well, I think I will continue/revise this when I come up with intelligent questions to ask, but for now, enjoy. And please do take the time to get back to me.
As every pretentious snob knows, the English language is going downhill at a stiff pace. True, more and more people's are adopting English as their working language, and our army seems to be moping up the recalcitrants, but what will the lingua franca be like after 20 more years of pop rock, children's cartoons and Presidents who say "nucular"?
"Lungua franca" is latin for French tongue. Today, it means English. This may be one of the roots of our problem.
So we have decided to just go ahead and fix the problem ourselves. The cooperative alternative is to go to modern language conferences and read phone book-sized diatribes on the use of "their" in place of "his" or "hers," which is a good idea but I think we just covered the topic completely in that last sentence.
First, our credentials:
(1) We seem to have some spare time;
(2) we're just smart enough to think people should listen to us, and just dumb enough that we don't recognize our own ignorance; and
(3) we can type quickly.
First lesson on English: lists of three are ideal any time.
This is NOT going to be an "expand your vocubulary" scheme. Those are fine, and if you can stomach it we highly recommend them. All we want to do is point out words that you already know (unless you went to school in a state that has outlawed evolution) that you maybe don't use too much because you don't know how interesting they can be. By interesting, we mean fun to say, annoying to others, or just plain obtuse. Today's word is the verb "shelled," as in "shelled peanuts."
What are shelled peanuts (note: we shan't be discussing the fact that peanuts are not nuts)(note: "shan't" will come up in a future column)? Shouldn't the verb "to shell" mean to put a shell on something? And if the peanuts are actually still in their shell, they are called "unshelled peanuts." What is up with that? So the interest here would fall into the annoying/obtuse category.
You may well say that "to shell" means to take a shell off, and dictionaries would agree. We're not advocating a change in its meaning. All we're asking is that you use it more often in vapid discussions just like this one with your friends. Don't do so on a first date.
You should definitely go on and point out that if that is indeed the meaning of "shelled," the English language is left bereft of a word for putting a shell on something.
Yes, bereft will also be discussed later. It's a very fine word. Try saying it out loud. It releases endorphins.