Annals of spam

A spam comment on my iPad posting, from a clearly commercial site:

I was studying something else about this on another blog. Interesting. Your linear position on it is diametrically contradicted to what I read in the first place. I am still contemplating over the diverse points of view, but I’m leaning heavily towards yours. And regardless, that’s what is so good about modern democracy and the marketplace of thoughts online.

Totally devoid of substantive comment — in particular, not connected at all to the material in the posting it’s “commenting on”.  Just designed to attract clicks to the originating site. Still, for a spam comment, pretty well written.

Predictably, the very same message appears, with various names as the “poster”, in comments on a number of blogs, sometimes more than once on a single blog. Not on my blog, since I spammed it to death.

Others have complained about it. For instance:

Amusing. You win. Your prize is that I won’t post your spam in my comments because it’s still spam and obviously crap; but I will take your pathetic words and use them to amuse myself for the three minutes or so it took to deride you in public. (link)

There are two points of usage interest, though: be contradicted to something, contemplate over something. Both caught my eye, but the first struck me as odd, possibly non-native English.

Googling on {“contradicted to”} pulls up some entirely grammatical examples in which the to begins an adverbial complement to the verb: a purpose adverbial, a degree adverbial (to some degree), etc.

Then there some odd usages that look malapropistic to me: contradicted ‘contraindicated’ (in medical contexts), as contradicted to ‘as contrasted to’. Be contradicted to ‘be contradictory to, be opposed to’ (as in the spam comment), if from a native speaker, might also be malapropistic.

There are also a fair number of examples of a different sort, which look like instances of “intransitivizing P-addition” (here), with intransitive contradict to as a variant of standard transitive contradict, for instance:

These are just a few of the great names who had laid down the foundations to the massive world of mathematics. People had contradicted to their views and theories, but as they always provided a mathematical explanation to each of their theories, they are all recognized today. (link)

It was generally believed that teleportation was impossible, for it contradicted to all scientific laws imaginable. (link)

Both of these seem to be from non-native speakers, however, so it’s not clear what the extent of the phenomenon is for native speakers.

Contemplate over is different. OED2 has contemplate on, upon, over, with the object of the preposition denoting something contemplated, but all are marked as obsolete. OED2 doesn’t list about, but I’d venture that it’s now the most common P for complements of intransitive contemplate. But there are a fair number of instances of over in this function: I am contemplating over whether…, contemplating over weight loss products, contemplating over a new car. As well as a large number of instances of about in this function.

Of course, transitive contemplate is also available, so this does look like a case of intransitiving P-addition — with the usual twist that the transitive and intransitive variants are often subtly different in meaning.

(Contemplate about has an ambiguity parallel to one for think about: “contemplating about art” ‘musing about art, thinking deeply about art’; “contemplating about relocating to Charlotte” ‘considering (as a possibility) moving to Charlotte’.)

For me, when I want an intransitive construction in such cases, I find about much more natural than over. But others seem to find over natural in many circumstances, so I suppose I can’t fault the blog spam on that account.

One Response to “Annals of spam”

  1. naptimewriting Says:

    I heart that you used the OED to analyze spam. Kudos. You’re my hero.

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