My latest Tribune language column:
On the word "co-family" as a replacement for "stepfamily."
I thought about starting the article with this Paul Reiser joke, but it didn't work out:
Comedian Paul Reiser once joked that there's a greeting card for every possible situation: "From the Three of Us to the Three of You," "From Some of Us to All of You," "From Both of Us to Nobody in Your Area."
[From Reiser's "Couplehood," p. 254:]
I once went up to the guy at the register and said, "You know, a friend of mine just got a job on the same day as his anniversary, and his dog just had puppies, but sadly his grandfather passed away that afternoon. Is there a card that might cover the whole thing?"
He said, "Sure. From the whole family, or just yourself?"
More from Wayne Glowka on euphemisms:
"Undertaker" sounded better than "gravedigger"; perhaps "funeral director" sounds better than "undertaker." "Grief specialist" sounds specious and
certainly more expensive. Whatever the case, there is still a body to
embalm and dispose of in some fashion in the midst of grieving relatives and
friends. When a co-mother tells her co-daughter to quit talking back, the sound of
this conversation will not be improved with the new terms.
Re: gypsy: Dictionary.com lists the American Heritage Dictionary's entry for "gypsy" as its primary definition, identifying gypsies as descendants of migrants from northern India who "have preserved elements of their traditional culture, including an itinerant existence and the Romany language." AHD's fourth entry for "gypsy" is "one inclined to a nomadic, unconventional way of life. A person who moves from place to place as required for employment."
• ASD-L says the season's greetings of an ad for Virgin Mobil talks about Chrismahanukwanzakah
• An advisory at woodtv.com for Wednesday's storm predicted that "snow will continue to overspread southern lower Michigan this afternoon."
• Ad for some truck: "Roomier. Brawnier. Versatilier."
• One of Letterman's Top Ten Signs You're Watching A Bad Disaster Movie was ""Explosions" are just crew members shouting, "Pcchewwwww!"" Here's where I wish I knew the IPA, but that spelling doesn't sound much like the usual explosion noises I've made and hear people make. There's a K and an F in there, and some kind of an SH. I was going to try to spell it, but I can't.
• Is this the origin of queen meaning queer? Apparently nasty rumors surrounded King James (of the King James Bible). From Wikipedia: "When James inherited the English Throne in 1603, it was openly joked in London that Rex fuit Elizabeth: nunc est regina Jacobus (Elizabeth was King: now James is Queen)."
• The LRB looks up naughty URLs.
• LL on the excess politeness of writing "X was killed when the SUV he was driving hit a tree."
(Don't you just hate it when the SUV you're driving hits a tree?)
• Language and the Onion:
QUINTER, KS—Sophia Reed, 7, dominated Monday's Family Game Night, thanks in part to her inscrutable Uno face, family members reported. "She'd just sit as quiet as a church mouse, then hit me with a 'draw four wild card,'" said Leo Reed, Sophia's grandfather and Uno opponent.
• The Online Etymology Dictionary's plea for sponsors for certain pages is clever: "Sponsor 'peace'. Give your boyfriend 'lust.' Show your appreciation for 'candy.'"
• If the English subjunctive was dying, the Toronto Sun may have just yanked at its plug, says RC.
Speaking of which, I want to diagram the name of the song from Moulin Rouge that my wife and I danced to at our wedding: "Come What May." I can't figure out if "may" is a subjunctive; is it an auxiliary in a subjunctive construction? I hate my grammatical ignorance.
• ""everynow and then" gets about eight thousand hits" at Google, says ASD-L.
• From FT:
In their extended commentary the editors contend, and the collection demonstrates, that notoriously fissiparous evangelical enthusiasms are, in recent decades, converging in a creedal affirmation of the Great Tradition grounded in Scripture as authoritatively interpreted by the early fathers and councils of the Church.
M-W: fissiparous Etymology: Latin fissus, past participle of findere + English -parous
: tending to break up into parts : DIVISIVE
• "Oh well, right?" my wife said/asked me this morning. I thought that was interesting: using the interjection "oh well" to make the statement "it is not important," then asking me to confirm the statement. Or was she quoting it--"'Oh well,' right?"--as in, "'No pain, no gain,' right?" more
• QT on viz:
QT Grammar R Us Seminar on the English Language (cont'd):
David Pinion, a Los Angeles reader, regarding QT's inclusion of "viz.," i.e., "videlicet," i.e., "it is permitted to see," on a list of commonly confused Latin abbreviations, viz. "i.e.," "e.g." and "viz.," writes:
"Wouldn't 'viz.' be more appropriately placed in the list of commonly confused Latin abbreviations that pertain to lists, i.e., 'i.e.' 'e.g.', 'viz.' and 'et al.'?"
We do seem to have a growing list, viz. "i.e.," "e.g." "viz.," "et al.," etc.
QT Grammar R Us Seminar on the English Language (cont'd):
J.T., a Milwaukee reader, regarding QT's referring to a common confusion between two Latin abbreviations, i.e., "e.g.," i.e., "exempli gratia," i.e., "for example," and "i.e.," i.e., "id est," i.e., "that is," messages:
"You forgot 'viz.' "
You are referring to "viz.," i.e., "videlicet," i.e., "it is permitted to see," which is not an abbreviation to be followed by an example, e.g., "e.g.," or by a restatement in different words, e.g., "i.e.," but by a complete list of whatever is being written about, e.g., three commonly confused Latin abbreviations, viz. "i.e.," "e.g." and "viz."
A cohort is a group, not a person, by the way.
• DTWW says says there's such a political slang term as if-by-whiskey speech: "southern US regionalism: a speech coming down emphatically on both sides on an issue."
From the days when any good southern politician had a speech of this sort at the ready, concerning his views on spiritus ferminti. Several such passages are of record, of which this is the best. Supposedly from a Mississippi legislator in 1958.
'You have asked me how I feel about whiskey; well, Brother, here's how I stand.
If by whiskey you mean the devil's brew, the poison scourge, the bloody monster that defiles innocence, dethrones reason, destroys the home, creates misery and poverty, yea, literally takes the bread from the mouths of little children; if you mean that evil drink that topples Christian men and women from the pinnacles of righteous and gracious living into the bottomless pits of degradation, shame, despair, helplessness, and hopelessness, then, my friend, I am opposed to it with every fiber of my being.
However, if by whiskey you mean the oil of conversation, the philosophic wine, the elixir of life, the ale that is consumed when good fellows get together, that puts a song in their hearts and the warm glow of contentment in their eyes; if you mean Christmas cheer, the stimulating sip that puts a little spring in the step of an elderly gentleman on a frosty morning; if you mean that drink that enables man to magnify his joy, and to forget life's great tragedies and heartbreaks and sorrow; if you mean that drink the sale of which pours into our treasuries untold millions of dollars each year, that provides tender care for our little crippled children, our blind, our deaf, our dumb, our pitifully aged and infirm, to build the finest highways, hospitals, universities, and community colleges in this nation, then my friend, I am absolutely, unequivocally in favor of it.
This is my position, and as always, I refuse to be compromised on matters of principle.'
• Previous column and inflections