Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Note: My "On Language" column in the Tribune is moving to Wednesdays as of today. Here is today's column, on political slang: temp link/perm.preview


• When I saw the headline 'Kerry woos labor at Warren rally,' I thought that we usually use the word "woo" in cases of successful seduction, which did not necessarily occur in Warren (but three-letter verbs are a boon to headline-writers). The definition doesn't require success, but is that more common? (If I have time, maybe I'll fiddle around on Google and try to find out.)

• Isn't it interesting how the article "a" can denote a hypothetical and/or future happening? "We do not know if a President Kerry would cross partisan lines to build a broad consensus on critical matters of foreign policy, health care, and judicial appointments." If he wins the election, just drop the "a."

• The Trib said that Norman Mailer did a creditable job of playing himself in a guest appearance on Gilmore Girls. I wondered, what's the difference between "creditable" and "credible"? Apparently not much: credible: "offering reasonable grounds for being believed"; creditable: "worthy of belief ... sufficiently good to bring esteem or praise." Did the Trib mean Mailer's self-impersonation was believable or praiseworthy, or both?

• E-mail I received: "Going forward, we'll work on getting the entire [newsletter] online." Easier that way than to go backward.

• `Would you mind if I called you Judy?' a Tribune reader asked a waitress. 'She said, `No, not at all.' Later, Judy returned to the table and handed me a piece of paper with her phone number on it. When I'd asked if I could call her Judy, she thought I was asking for her phone number.' more

• Always left out: A producer on the extras for the movie Miracle says that they looked for skaters "all over North America and Canada."

• ESPN's graphic for the highlights of a hat trick in Dutch soccer read Hoeden Truc (and translated it as "hat trick")

• "Here!" I yelled across our apartment in response to my wife's inquiry about my whereabouts. "Where's 'here'?" she asked. I had intended the volume and origin of my voice to convey how far away I was, but should have reported my location. "Here" is demonstrative; can it demonstrate distance, as I intended?

• I looked up kitsch after seeing this NYT article and picture: "originates from the German term etwas verkitschen (which has a similar meaning to "knock off" in English." (more earlier)

• Bulletin board ad in our basement for a used fur coat: "Like New Condition"

Previous column and inflections

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