Archive for the ‘Technical and ordinary language’ Category

Taking a dark ride

July 21, 2017

Today’s Zippy brings on scary clowns in Laff in the Dark tunnels:

(#1)

— and, worse, threatens to unleash Tom Cruise (and his Outsider Art).

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Words on a wall

July 8, 2017

The latest xkcd (#1860):

(#1)

That’s Lewis Carroll’s Humpty Dumpty on that wall, discoursing on semantics as in Through the Looking-Glass. The stand-in for the baffled Alice in the book is the aggressively disputatious Science Girl of xkcd.

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Trailers

June 13, 2017

… in NOAD2’s third sense:

3 a thing that trails, especially a trailing plant.

The occasion was an errand-running walk in Palo Alto a little while ago with Kim Darnell, on which we came across a plant I identified as a fuchsia, remarking that they were often planted in hanging baskets, where their down-hanging flowers spilled attractively over the sides of the basket:

   (#1)

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A medical mouthful

May 22, 2017

That would be endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP). It’s the cholangiopancreatography that especially interests me. I was hoping that there would be some way to break that monster into pieces, like this:

cholangio-pancreato-graphy ‘imaging of the bile duct and the pancreas’

but cholangio- and pancreato- are both combining forms, with a linking –o– that has to be written solid with what follows. So we’re stuck with the whole long business.

All this is on my mind because I’m undergoing this procedure on June 7th; I had the diagnostic MRCP (magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography) back on the 11th.

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The Jargon Matrix

April 12, 2017

Yesterday’s Dilbert takes us into a dark world of language, the Jargon Matrix:

(#1)

The Matrix, but with jargon from the world of technology businesses.

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Technical terms

March 13, 2017

A recent One Big Happy, in which Joe faces a test question on the term collective noun:

Joe hopes that he can use what he knows about the verb collect and its derivatives to guess at what the grammatical term collective might mean. Ah, a mail carrier collects the mail (from a mailbox) and delivers it (to a mailbox), so mailbox must be a collective noun. BZZT!

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Spring bulbs

March 9, 2017

… and other flowers. The plants come into bloom on a schedule that’s some complex of day length and temperature. Locally we’ve been having stretches of late cold weather (“patchy morning frost in low-lying areas”, the weather forecasts will say), so some plants are on the late side. Out my front door: the calla lilies are just now opening up, and the Victorian box — Pittosporum — hasn’t yet come into fragrant bloom. (For enthusiasts of resembloid composites: calla lilies aren’t lilies (Lilium), and Victorial box isn’t any kind of box (Buxus); see my 3/17/12 St. Patrick’s Day posting.) But the first narcissus bloomed in January, and a visit with Juan Gomez to Palo Alto’s Gamble Garden on Tuesday confronted us with great swaths of blooming narcissus, of many cultivars, as well as tulips, grape hyacinths, and snowdrops.

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Taking things literally

August 3, 2016

(It starts in a candy store and eventually works back to my grade school years.)

A recent One Big Happy has Ruthie trying to buy some candy:

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Well, it’s called penny candy, but that’s just its name, not a description. You can’t take the name literally.

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Naming names: the cocktail beat

July 29, 2016

In the New York Times Magazine on Sunday the 24th, an entertaining “Drinks” column by Rosie Schaap, about cocktail names, with special attention to the cocktails created and named by Jill Dobias, of the East Village restaurant Joe and Misses Doe. Two of her works, Eye of the Komodo and Clam in a Can:

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Morning toe jam

October 23, 2015

This morning’s name was toe jam (aka toe-jam and toejam), a slang term for something that has no medical label that I can find. Some definitions:

‘material that collects between the toes’ (Wikipedia)

‘dirt which accumulates between the toes’ (OED2, with a first cite in only 1934)

‘the ‘gunk’ that accumulates between the toes’ (Huffington post article by a podiatrist)

My mind then took me immediately to the line

He wear no shoeshine, he got toe jam football

from the Beatles’ “Come Together” on their Abbey Lane album (1969).

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