Today’s Scenes from a Multiverse (on-line here):
But think of the children, the being on the right objects, while the main speaker espouses rapey misogyny as true art. But my real interest here is in the idiom run amuck — or should it be run amok?
Running the rounds recently, the story of a university lecturer who ranted herself out of her job. From RawStory: “Florida St. communications lecturer resigns after bemoaning ‘Northern fagoot elitism’ on Facebook” by Scott Kaufman on the 10th:
A senior lecturer in the College of Business at Florida State University resigned over the weekend after she posted a torrent of racist, homophobic comments on a Facebook photograph of outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.
The spelling FAGOOT was widely taken to be an illiteracy, but (though the woman seems to be thoroughly repellent) I very much doubt that that’s what was going on.
On the 28th, I posted “Drunk on words, and a lot of whiskey”, on Dylan Thomas. To which Bill Halstead cried out in pain on Facebook:
“whisky” No ‘e’!!!!
I carried over the spelling from the NYT story, which, being American, used the American spelling, with the E; the British and Canadian spelling lacks the E. There’s no winning here: omitting the E would mis-report the NYT, but keeping it is incorrect from the British point of view. A sensible person would just treat the two spellings as interchangeable alternatives.
This is a classic case of conditions in conflict, in particular faithfulness (Faith), saying (among other things) that a quotation should be faithful to its source (so: WHISKEY when quoting from the NYT), vs. well-formedness (WF), saying that a quotation should be well-formed according to the practices of the original source (so: WHISKY when quoting from a UK source about Scotch).
(A complexity here is that the NYT was pretty obviously not faithful to its sources, which were British.)
The story so far concerns three items pronounced /fæp/:
(fæp-1) an exclamation of annoyance, similar to drat!
(fæp-2) an onomatopetic expression, representing the sound of vigorous male masturbation
(fæp-3) a verb meaning ‘to masturbate vigorously’ (of a man)
How do we spell these items? As far as I can tell, the first has only the simplest available spelling, FAP, but the sexual items show variation between FAP and FAPP. What to make of this?
The technical-sounding terms homophone, homograph, and homonym are used in different ways by different people, but the cartoon illustrates one clear case where homograph is certainly useful: same spelling, different pronunciation (and different meaning, so clearly different lexical items). Here, the spelling BASS and the pronunciations /bæs/ (referring to a kind of fish) and /bes/ (referring in this case to a musical instrument, the bass guitar). Fishing for guitars.
From my recent posting “Dubious disavowals?”, in a description of the offerings of the Welsh food truck Dirty Bird Fried Chicken:
The menu … features items such as the Dirty Hippy Burger with fried Haloumi, Chilli Slaw, Red Onion, Mayo, Hot Sauce and a pickled cucumber in a toasted brioche bun.
The erratic capitalization is entertaining, but my focus here is on the ingredient haloumi, a kind of cheese.
It started fairly simply, with a BBC radio news report from Iraq (heard from I don’t know which source; BBC news comes to me from several places, including BBC3 more or less directly): a bulletin from the Assyrian city of Nineveh, which the news reader pronounced as
instead of what I expected to be
(where @ in the middle syllable represents a neutral unaccented vowel, ɪ or ə — usually transcribed ɪ, as in Wikipedia, though I sometimes hear ə).
I was, in fact, so astounded by the /aj/ in the first syllable of (1) that I failed to take notes on its source; I’d never heard anything but /ɪ/ in this syllable, and /aj/ is not even remotely like the vowel in the Assyrian pronunciation of the place name. Where would it come from?