Archive for the ‘Usage’ Category

Tech talk

February 21, 2015

Today’s Dilbert, in which the pointy-headed boss asks for investment advice:

The boss is fine with colorful figurative jargon in the investment world, but balks at the term diversification because of the spelling challenges it presents.

Employee qualities

January 17, 2015

Back in November, Business Insider posted a piece, “A Leaked Internal Uber Presentation Shows What The Company Really Values In Its Employees”:

One page of the document defined which qualities all Uber employees are expected to possess. Those qualities, or “Uber Competencies,” are: Vision, Quality Obsession, Innovation, Fierceness, Execution, Scale, Communication, Super Pumpedness

Business Insider picked out two of these, super pumpedness and fierceness, as especially worthy of mockery. And now Scott Adams’s comic Dilbert has exploited these in two strips, from yesterday and today.

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Ask AMZ

November 24, 2014

Two usage queries came to me recently: one on uses of a noun doxy; one on two informal idioms (the whole shooting match and wham, bam, thank you ma’am (with some variant versions)): Max Vasilatos reported coming across two Californian young men, one of whom didn’t understand the first, the other of whom didn’t understand the second.

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Name aversion

November 16, 2014

It starts with ISIS or Isis as a name for the Sunni jihadist group, inadvertently echoing the name of a goddess of ancient Egypt; the name of the good-guy organization on the tv show Archer; and the name of a non-standard construction in English. The tv show is going to phase out the ISIS name, but I’m sticking with the English usage name ISIS / Isis.

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Action Item, Professional Superhero

October 2, 2014

From Martin Kaminer to ADS-L on the 28th, a link to this wonderful 2000 comic strip by Neil McAllister (apparently the only extant episode of Adventures of Action Item):




 

Mostly about jargon, but it also raises questions about discourse organization, in this case about how business meetings are organized.

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Ling wars in Dingburg

September 30, 2014

Today’s Zippy has Dingburgers, drawn into camps on issues of linguistic variation and usage, slinging lots of technical terminology:

Most of these features — the glottal stop, NG coalescence, like, awesome, uptalk, whatever, vocal fry (creak, creaky voice) — have been discussed on Language Log or here, because they are associated with a collection of geographic or social dialect characteristics (region, age, sex, class, etc.) or particular styles and registers; they are socioculturally significant, usually in quite complex ways. The remaining three — strident voice, slack voice, and falsetto — are phonation types that have, I think, escaped attention on these blogs

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Respecting each other

July 20, 2013

The short version of an ad for a gay dating/cruising app:

MISTER is an online community for men who value themselves and other men. Unlike other gay social networking apps, MISTER encourages users to show their faces, show respect, spend less time searching and more time meeting men in the real world. The users of our app are proud to say, “I am MISTER.”

(There will eventually be a linguistic point.)

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How ’bout them Cubbies?

May 12, 2013

Today’s Zippy:

So the strip is “about” hair(s), but it’s also “about” How ’bout them Cubbies?

(On a personal hair and holiday note: I’m watching Hairspray for Mothers Day.)

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on many’s the Saturday night

March 11, 2013

From John Patrick Shanley’s “The Darkness of an Irish Morning”, NYT op-ed piece on the 10th:

I am not Irish. I am Irish-American. Some say I have the gift [of gab] as well. If I do, it is because I listened to my father and my uncles and some of my aunts as they gave as good as they got in my living room in the Bronx. On many’s the Saturday night, they would drink rye and ginger ale, and smoke and talk and sing and dance, and I would sing, too, and dance with my aunts, and listen through the blue air.

The linguistic point is on many’s the Saturday night, with many’s, which has the (apparent) inflectional affix -s not motivated by the structure.There’s a connection to Irish English.

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Correction of the Week

September 26, 2012

Corrections in publications usually focus on matters of content (someone’s age, the correct title of a publication, the date of an event), on typos, or on unintended ambiguities, but occasionally usage crops up, as in this Correction of the Week from the New Yorker of September 24th (p. 95):

From the San Jose Mercury News.

An item in the July 12 News of the World column about police confronting beachgoers incorrecty reported what the beachgoers were doing. They were not flouting their breasts, they were flaunting them.

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