Archive for the ‘Style and register’ Category

individuals, people, persons

February 13, 2019

From a mail pointer to a 1/30/19 article in the journal Psychological Science, “Similarity Grouping as Feature-Based Selection” by Dian Yu, Xiao Xiao, Douglas K. Bemis, & Steven L. Franconeri:

Individuals perceive objects with similar features (i.e., color, orientation, shape) as a group even when those objects are not grouped in space.

Point at issue: individuals rather than people, a mark of a consciously formal, “scientific” way of writing, appropriate (some believe) for reporting on research in psychology.

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Peppernut Day

December 24, 2018

Having tackled the Christmas season as a whole, Sandra Boynton examines one specific day: on FB yesterday, with “A helpful tip on National Pfeffernüsse Day” (December 23rd):

(#1)

On peppernuts. And on the recipe register (here: Recipe Object Omission in roll thoroughly in confectioners’ sugar).

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Sports commentary

December 20, 2018

Thanks to Facebook friends who provided a link to an xkcd cartoon from way back (5/27/11): #904 Sports:

The point is that sports color commenators treat essentially random day-to-day fluctuations as indicators of trends — because they have lots of time to fill and not a lot of substance to fill it with (play-by-play coverage is something else), and because like all of us they are narratophiles (lovers of story) and seek to find a coherent narrative in pretty much anything that happens. Meanwhile, color commentators can fall back on all that accumulated data, to wield fan statistics as another time-filler.

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The rainbow pillars of Montréal

August 3, 2018

A photo from Arthur Prokosch yesterday:


(#1) “I have arrived at queer station. — in Gay Village, Montreal.”

The occasion was/is the 31st motss.con — annual gathering of folks from the net group soc.motss (lgbt-folk and friends) — in Montréal. (Con Central is the Hotel Le Saint Andre, 1285 Rue Saint-André, a half-block from Rue Ste-Catherine E, at the edge of the Gay Village.)

One notable thing in the photo is the colors of the six rainbow pillars at the station: not the usual saturated bright colors of the rainbow flag, but less saturated and lighter — elegant, fashion colors. We’re here, we’re gay, and we’re stylish.

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The way I write now

May 9, 2018

Or: Arnauld le flâneur.

(Edward Gorey caught unawares.)

On 3/15/17 in “Lauren la flâneuse”:

[from Wikipedia] Flâneur … means “stroller”, “lounger”, “saunterer”, or “loafer” [the person of leisure, the idler, the urban explorer, the connoisseur of the street]. Flânerie is the act of strolling, with all of its accompanying associations.

Here flânerie refers not just to the act, but also to the reporting of the act — to a literary genre, of which I am an exponent.

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Another signage ambiguity

May 1, 2018

Ambiguity is everywhere, but by eliminating useful redundancies in texts, telegraphic registers — headlines, signage, instructional labels, graffiti, and so on — hugely increase the opportunities for unintended multiple meanings. As in this photo that just turned up in Facebook:

(1) N + N compound ‘area for pets (to use)’ OR an imperative, V + NPobj ‘pet the area’

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The Legend of Hercules

March 22, 2018

… and the stages of shirtless Kellan Lutz.

A little while back, I stumbled into watching the 2014 The Legend of Hercules for the, omigod, second time. Starring an immensely muscled Kellan Lutz as the great hero of myth, embedded in a famous stinker of a movie whose faults are at least in part linguistic. Though it does offer tons of glistening male flesh for aficionados.

(#1) Exhibit #1: Lutz as Hercules

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Affective style: chill vs. loud

March 15, 2018

An abstract for a Stanford linguistics dissertation to be defended this coming Monday (March 19th): Teresa Pratt, Affective sociolinguistic style: an ethnography of embodied linguistic variation in an arts high school:

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Exercises in high macho style

December 11, 2017

Passing between channels on my tv on the 6th, I caught a moment from the show Mr. Robot (S3 E9) in which Terry Colby, an exec at the Allsafe Corporation, spins out a riff in high-macho figurative language, a piece of crude poetry:

That’s all teddy bears and hand jobs, but what are your financials?  We can’t wake up one day and find ourselves tits up, dicks blowing in the breeze.

The masterstroke in all this is all teddy bears and hand jobs, an invention intended to convey an ironic, dismissive version of the high-toned all sweetness and light or, better, the vernacular all beer and skittles ‘all fun and pleasure’ (skittles, the game of ninepins)

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??That is aliens for you.

November 21, 2017

From Mike Pope on Facebook a few days ago, this excerpt from Ian Frazier’s “New York’s Majestic Passage in the Sky: Revamping the Bayonne Bridge to make space for megaships” in the 11/13/17 New Yorker:

(#1)

Mike wrote:

I can’t decide here whether this is weird. In the New Yorker, a sentence where I think I’d expect a contraction (“That’s xxx for you!”). Is this an editor bending the idiom to house style, or is this a not untypical variant?

Two things: the acceptability of the example (at best, it merits the stigma ?? of great dubiousness); and the circumstances that might have given rise to ??That is aliens for you (not at all clear, but advice on style and usage might be part of the story).

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