Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Year in Words

Mom job? Nose bidet? Wide stance? Grant discusses some of the quirky, strange, and otherwise telling expressions making the rounds in 2007. His article in today's New York Times is a fascinating way of looking back at the year.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Facebook "is" isn't

A campaign of 182,015 people to stomp out a specific use of the word "is" on Facebook is successful.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


From Reuters:
An Italian court has ruled that a couple could not name their son "Friday" and ordered that he instead be called Gregory after the saint whose feast day he was born on..."We named him Friday because we like the sound of the name. Even if it would have been a girl, we would have named her Friday," the boy's mother, Mara Germano, told Reuters.

When the boy was about five months old, a city hall clerk brought the odd name to the attention of a tribunal, which informed the couple of an administrative norm which bars parents from giving "ridiculous or shameful" first names to children.

Really. Talk about ridiculous. I like the name, too. What do you think? (Thanks to shpilkes for pointing this one out and supplying the headline.)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Uglier Than a Monkey's Armpit

Here's a new book that sounds like a great stocking stuffer, from LanguageHat. I'm putting it on my wishlist.

Photo by babasteve

Sunday, December 16, 2007


Let's linguistic excuse for posting this clip is, um, er, ah . . . oh! It's in Thai with subtitles, and ... oh, heck, just watch it.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Correction of the Day

This one makes my heart sing. It's from the London Guardian:

We misspelled the word misspelled twice, as mispelled, in the Corrections and clarifications column on September 26, page 30.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

w00t did you say?

You may have heard that the folks at Merriam-Webster choose "w00t" as their "Word of the Year" for 2007. Grant, of course, has the real scoop on w00t here.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Paging Santa

Holiday book recommendations from Boston Globe language columnist Jan Freeman. These two in particular are on my own to-read list:

"How Language Works" (Avery, $17.95), by the formidable British linguist David Crystal, more than lives up to its ambitious subtitle: "How Babies Babble, Words Change Meaning, and Languages Live or Die." It's a wide-ranging introduction to the study of language, touching on virtually every aspect from neuroscience to dialects to language death....

Remember those Latin conjugations? A lot of Brits apparently do; Harry Mount's tribute to the undead language, "Carpe Diem" (Hyperion, $19.95), was a bestseller in England last year. Subtitled "Put a Little Latin in Your Life," it purports to be a workable introduction to the language, with basic grammar brightened by illustrations (John Belushi in a toga), whimsy (the Latin bit from "Life of Brian"), and fun facts about Roman emperors. But Mount's affectionate ramble, with its tributes to teachers past, seems more likely to lure nostalgia trippers than budding classicists.

Rising to the Occasion

So sorry I didn’t see until now this gem from the BBC from a couple of weeks ago:

Croatia rose to the occasion in their crucial Euro 2008 defeat of England - after an apparent X-rated gaffe by an English opera singer at Wembley.

Tony Henry belted out a version of the Croat anthem before the 80,000 crowd, but made a blunder at the end.

He should have sung 'Mila kuda si planina' (which roughly means 'You know my dear how we love your mountains').

But he instead sang 'Mila kura si planina' which can be interpreted as 'My dear, my penis is a mountain'.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The Swiss Army Knife of Words

A beer commercial demonstrates the flexibility of the word "dude."

Monday, December 03, 2007

Hot Shirts and Hit Sheds

A look at the psychology of spoonerisms, which of course can mean the difference between straddling a well-boiled icicle and a well-oiled bicycle.