Archive for the ‘Abbreviation’ Category

Bizarro followup

August 29, 2014

Posting yesterday on that day’s Bizarro, with only minimal commentary on it. Now a follow-up on two topics: what you have to know to make sense of what’s going on in the cartoon; and what makes it funny.

The cartoon repeated here:

 

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temblor

August 26, 2014

We had an earthquake in northern California in the middle of the night on Sunday. Centered in Napa County, where it did some significant damage. Down here on the peninsula, we got some long shaking, but not much otherwise. My windows rattled, but nothing was harmed; not even the pictures on my walls were deranged.

Then there’s the media coverage, which prominently uses (in all quake reporting, but especially in headlines) the word temblor, which I don’t think I’ve ever heard in ordinary conversation; it seems to be a journalists’ word.

Maybe some journalists think that temblor is a technical, precise term and that (earth)quake is a colloquial and less precise term, but I can find no evidence for this idea. All the dictionaries I’ve looked at, plus the Associated Press Stylebook, treat temblor as a straightforward synonym for earthquake, with no referential distinction.

It’s true that temblor is shorter than earthquake, so it’s handy for for headlines. But the clipped quake is shorter than temblor, and has the advantage of easy comprehension. (Tremor is also compact and easy to understand.) But newspapers like the exotic temblor.

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An orphan initialism

August 24, 2014

In a local story I’ve been following for a while in the (San Francisco mid-peninsula) Daily Post, the installment from the 21st: “Gym may continue without Y: Landlord comes to the rescue” by Breena Kerr. Background:

YMCA Silicon Valley announced in June it intended to close the gym in the Palo Alto Square office complex [at Page Mill Rd. and El Camino Real], citiing declining membership and the need to make costly and logistically difficult renovations. As the expiration of the lease approached, the YMCA said it made more sense to close than to try to save the gym.

(The landlord now says he intends to keep the gym running after the YMCA leaves.)

Further background: Over the years, the Page Mill YMCA has developed a considerable membership of seniors, who have become a community. As the Daily Post put it:

Unlike most YMCAs, the Page Mill location is an adult gym, and many members see it as an integral part of their social lives.

But YMCA of Silicon Valley Chief Operating Officer Elizabeth Jordan told the Post in June that the organization doesn’t want to run an adult gym.

“A YMCA that’s perceived as adults-only isn’t in line with the YMCA’s mission,” she told the Post.

In the June quote Jordan characterizes the facility as “an adult gym” but then refines that to “perceived as adults-only”, which is quite another matter. In any case, the Page Mill facility certainly presents itself as for everyone. not just the young, men, and Christians.

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Coping with the new

June 2, 2014

In today’s One Big Happy, Ruthie and Joe are back on the track of trying to make sense of things they haven’t heard before:

  (#1)

Lots of knowledge needed here — about the words of English and about sociocultural conventions:

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Double-take

May 1, 2014

Victor Steinbok found this on Google+ and passed it on to me; a great many sites have versions of it:

Note: These Tasty Crackers are Australian; the sale price is in Australian dollars.

Lots of people will do a double-take on seeing that sale sticker, which comes very close to offering tasty-ass crackers.

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Background knowledge

April 27, 2014

On April 25th, on ADS-L, from Pat O’Conner (of Grammarphobia.com), under the heading “A crash blossom for the ages”:

Dare you to decipher this one, from Reuters (London) on April 16th:

“Stuttering Man City Held by Bottom Side Sunderland”

Pat translates:

“Man City” is Manchester City, a football (soccer) team (or “side”). Sunderland is another; it plays in the lowest league (“bottom”).

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Who Made That?

January 20, 2014

In the NYT Magazine (on Sunday the 19th), a “Who Made That?” piece by Daniel Engber on the captcha. Some weeks ago, another one of these pieces on laugh tracks on television.

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Today’s initialism

September 4, 2013

In  my mail today, a message labeled BFSA. Ok, any number of interpretations, many of them sexual (my mind is inclined that way), but then it turned out to be from these folks:

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Acronym of the week

May 1, 2013

From the NYT Science Times yesterday, in ” ‘Cured of AIDS’? Not Yet” by Donald G. McNeil Jr.:

“We should seek out, test and get people into treatment as soon as we possibly can,” Dr. [Anthony] Fauci said. “That way, you can get people into the position the Visconti cohort is in.”

(“Visconti cohort,” for Viro-Immunologic Sustained Control After Treatment Interruption, is a shorthand way of referring to the patients studied by the Pasteur Institute, in France.)

Someone labored hard to concoct that acronym.

A bonus from the same article, this “split infinitive” that caught my eye:

In this country, it is unusual for an infected pregnant woman to not see a doctor even once before delivery.

I probably would have moved the not up in the structure, to give not to see, but I’m not sure why; I certainly have no aversion to so-called split infinitives. Perhaps the writer systematically prefers to keep VP adverbs (like not) with the VP they modify (so that the infinitive marker to then combines with a full, modified BSE-form VP); there are certainly writers who do.

 

Acronymic pun

April 22, 2013

John Gintell, just back from the NEFFA festivities, has posted this Pearls Before Swine cartoon from January 27th on Google+:

 

Big GROAN (great roar of acronymic nausea).

 


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