Archive for November, 2011

Peeving etc. postings

November 26, 2011

In response to a query about “language peevers”, I offer a partial inventory of postings on language rage, language peeving, word aversion, and word attraction on Language Log and this blog. I stopped keeping the inventory up to date early this year; there is just so much to deal with.


The end of books, or maybe grammar

November 26, 2011

Today’s Zippy:

Three things: the prediction of the end of the book (endless symposia, publications, etc. on the future of the book, and how it probably doesn’t have one), software developers as authorities on such matters, and the faults of language peevers (much commented on over the years on Language Log).

Bizarro POP

November 26, 2011

Today’s Bizarro:

A classic POP — phrasal overlap portmanteau — building on clown college, college football, and football widow.

The holiday season

November 25, 2011

For reference, an outline of what constitutes the holiday season. A complicated matter, since there’s both a secular and a religious notion in this domain, and the two are intertwined.


Cartoon technical talk composite modifier pile-up example

November 25, 2011

Today’s Zits:

Pierce indulges in a pile-up of modifiers in the composite expression personal reference respite environments. These pile-ups are characteristic of newspaper headlines (especially in British papers) and other contexts where brevity is valued, like signage, but they also have a home in officialese, business jargon, and other types of “technical talk”, where they function as much to convey seriousness as to save space (in this case, incorporating the jargonish respite, environment, personal, and reference).

Despite his appearance, Pierce might have a future in an office environment.


November 25, 2011

From the “Metropolitan Diary” in the NYT of November 21st, this letter from Diane Orton:

My 4 1/2-year-old grandson, Max, hears and loves a great deal of classical music; one of his favorites is “The Rite of Spring.”

Riding in the car and listening to it with my musician son, Max told his dad who had composed it: “Eeyore Stravinsky.”

A child mondegreen, or childegreen for short.


Another Science Times headline

November 25, 2011

Not exactly “found poetry” (like the Science Times headline and text in this posting) because it was surely intentional. From November 22nd:

Microscopes and Math
Reveal a Moth’s True Hue

Alliteration and rhyme. And it’s in iambic trimeter (with a short first foot in the first line).

Science reporting is a “ludic locale” (for the term, see here; for more on science writing as a ludic locale, see here), and headlines are especially likely places for language play, but the metrical regulation of this headline pushes it into the area of poetry — poetry meant to be found, and appreciated.


Two obits

November 25, 2011

In the November 23rd NYT, two obits: for jazz musician Paul Motian (aged 80) and pollster George Gallup Jr. (aged 81).


Christmas music update

November 24, 2011

The onset of Christmas music (and more generally, “holiday music”) began at Halloween and is now in full flow. While in general I feel unpleasantly imposed on by the onslaught, especially in public places and especially by dreadful renditions of cutesy or boring songs, I’ve accumulated quite a lot of Christmas music on my iTunes.

Last year on Christmas Eve I posted about this music on this blog. Here’s an update.


Conrad Zwicky

November 24, 2011

Not about language; instead, about a Zwicky who turned up in my view half an hour ago: Conrad Zwicky, born in 1946, a Swiss violist, organist, and composer (German Wikipedia page here). What caught my eye was the release of an album by the ZHdK Strings, Rudolf Koelman, and Duncan McTier with three compositions:

Antonin Dvorak, Serenade for Strings in E major, Op. 22
Conrad Zwicky, Vier Orchesteretüden für Streicher
Giovanni Bottesini, Grand Duo Concertant for Violin, Double Bass and Strings

( ZHdK is Die Zürcher Hochshule der Künste (the Zurich University of the Arts).)

Giovanni Bottesini(1821-1869) was an Italian Romantic composer, conductor, and double bass virtuoso. I assume you know about Antonin Dvořák.

Now to listen to the music.