Introducing short shots

Introducing a new feature on this blog: Short Shots, brief items with little comment. This inaugural posting has five items in it.

1. The latest bulletin (August 19) from the AP Stylebook Online:

Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

This is the official name of the company, which has headquarters in Bentonville, Ark. Use Walmart when referring to the retail stores.

This is not some fussiness on the part of the AP, but reflects the practices of the company: “Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.” (with a comma, note) as the name of the company, but “Walmart” in all other contexts, including in “The Walmart Foundation”.

2. From “The Deepest Dive” by Alec Wilkinson, a piece on deep diver Natalia Molchanova in the August 24 New Yorker:

Molchanova is forty-seven. She is small and lean, with broad shoulders, a wide face, and fine shoulder-length hair. She teaches in the department of applied sports and extreme activities at the Russian State University of Physical Education and Sport Tourism in Moscow.

I don’t know if there are departments of applied sports and extreme activities at any other institutions, but there are sport tourism curricula in some others. There’s even a Journal of Sport and Tourism.

3. From the same issue of the New Yorker, in a piece (“Laugh, Kookaburra”) by David Sedaris: on page 32, about an Australian woman named Pat:

We’d met her a few years earlier, in Paris, where she’d come to spend a mid-July vacation. Over drinks in our living room, her face dewed with sweat, she taught us the term “shout,” as in “I’m shouting lunch.” This means that you’re treating, and that you don’t want any lip about it. “You can also say, ‘It’s my shout,’ or ‘I’ll shout the next round,’ ” she told us.

So much more forceful than “treat”.

4. In e-mail August 19 from a friend, suggesting getting together for lunch:

… I’m interested in much of recent events.

Much with a plural NP is certainly borderline for me, but I can appreciate the effect my correspondent was aiming for.

5. And from Ann Burlingham on August 4, reporting on the word crapton, which she came across in a blog and then found in the Urban Dictionary. It’s a variant of shitload, and one contributor, Mike Calhoun, suggested on 11/14/05 that it can serve as

A more child friendly version of “ShitLoad”… Use Crapton when you want to express an extreme amount of something without making a child’s ears bleed.

I realize that crap is well down on the offensiveness scale from shit, but for a lot of people it still has a taboo tinge to it. Several dictionaries label it as “vulgar slang”.

Note the hyperbolic claim that taboo vocabulary can be physically harmful; it can make little kids’ ears bleed, in particular.

5 Responses to “Introducing short shots”

  1. Jason Says:

    I’m astounded you’ve never encountered “shout” and am assuming you’re mentioning it because it came up via Sedaris. Then again as you frequently point out, these kinds of thing pass us by all the time without anyone noticing.

  2. arnoldzwicky Says:

    To Jason: there aren’t a huge number of hits for “shout lunch” in the relevant sense, and almost all of them seem to be from Aussies or Kiwis.

    To the other readers: Jason grew up in Australia.

  3. Rick S Says:

    Perhaps your correspondent was conceiving “recent events” as a collective noun, on the model of “current events”. That would take singular agreement and license “much”, as in “much of Linguistics”, wouldn’t it? (But we don’t have the context in this case; it may be that you know he/she was referring to specific events recently being discussed in your common circle, rather than to a generalized “recent events” topic.)

  4. The Ridger Says:

    I’d encountered “It’s my shout” but never as a transitive. Cool.

  5. mollymooly Says:

    I intuit that “shout” comes from bidding or betting in card-games (where there is a call), thence to the buying a round of drinks (one’s the responsibilkity to pay rotates likewise), thence to food (where usually only one payment is made)

    Albert Reynolds, then Irish Taoiseach, attracted a small bit of trouble for saying “total crap” in an interview in 1992.

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