Sunday, August 30, 2009

More outdated lingo

There are a lot of words related to dating and romance that I'm familiar with, but that people don't really say very much anymore, it seems.

Singles bar

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

We're all getting older

The President of the United States is younger than the following people.

Carl Lewis
Boy George
Michael J. Fox
Dennis Rodman
Eddie Murphy
Henry Rollins
Vince Neil
Wayne Gretzky
Joan Jett
Sean Penn
Chuck D
Kyle Gass
Prince Andrew
Greg Louganis
Nigella Lawson
Val Kilmer
Judd Nelson
Bryan Adams
Weird Al Yankovic

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Words you don't hear any more

I remember sometimes encountering these in old movies or old novels.

"Dick" -- detective
"Hack" -- cab driver
"Screw" -- prison guard

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

User Names

According to my browser's auto-complete function, the following are all examples of user names I have used when posting comments on the comment boards at the Onion AV Club.

Or more precisely, these are all things I've typed into the "name" field, but I do remember that in some cases, the user name I tried had actually been reserved by somebody else, so I couldn't comment under that name. I remember specifically that this was the case with "Comic Book Guy"; there are probably others as well.

I'm amazed at the number of different names on this list. However, I know that many of them I only used once, often as part of a one-time joke that probably made a bit more sense in context ("FBI guy" and "Leslie Nielsen" were both examples of that).

A 96 percent heterosexual man
A British Columbian
A Canadian, so why do I even care?
A mildly buzzed contrarian Canadian
A semi-regular who doesn't wanna log in
A west coaster who now lives in Toronto
A young socialist-leaning hipster
An aspiring academic
Another Obligatory Simpsons Reference Robot
Aspiring Jay Leno writer
Barbara Hershey Squirt
Borat Sagdiyev, Esq.
Bucephalus Winterbottom
Burns and his PR guys
being slightly more serious than I usually am
Comic Book Guy
Comic Book Guy Jeff Albertson
Daniel NES-tor
Danitra Vance
Dorky Canadian
doesn't matter
don't wanna log in
FBI guy
Fay Wray
Fissure Stevens
Floyd Bent Son
Fox Television
Fuhrman, pushing the boundaries of taste
Grape Frougape
Guy who stretches things
Guy who uses broad ethnic stereotypes
Homer J. Fong
Homer Jay Simpson
I stole these jokes (can you guess the source?)
Jerome Allen "Jerry" Seinfeld, standup comic
Kang or Kodos
Lenny Leonard
Leslie Nielsen
Leslie Nielsen, again
Lou Costello
Man nostalgic for seasons 4 through 8
McBain, hosting a late night talk show for some reason
Mitch Hedberg
Mitch Hedberg, Esq.
Mr. Peter Griffin of Quahog, RI
Nameless maneless salesmen
Non-clever name
Norm MacDonald
Not logging in right now because the web is slow because I'm multitasking
nonuple dash
Old man
Paco von Sourcream
Prinskipple Skipper
Scarface Q. Pinkington the 8th
Seinfeld and Carlin's less talented cousin
Skullturf Q, too lazy to log in
Skullturf Q. Beavispants
Slobmeister Q. Funnyface
Snare-ah Impalin'
Snorfgasm Q. Publicpants
shitass petfuckers
TV-watching guy
Tha Revverrennnd Chah-aunceee Grizz Leigh
That Russian guy whose name I forget
The Barenaked Ladies
The Liger
The dogs with bees in their mouths and when they bark they shoot bees at you
The guy who posts Onion headlines at the AV Club
Those hippies from the film "Herbie the Love Bug"
Too embarrassed to say
Two Harry Shearer characters
white male
Yeenoghu, Demon Lord of Gnolls
You Know Who

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Alcoholic, hamburger, Watergate

Those three words have something in common.

People have coined words like "chocoholic" and "shopaholic" that mean addiction to chocolate and shopping, not chocohol and shopahol.

People have coined words like "cheeseburger" and "mooseburger" that don't mean a food item originating from the cities of Cheeseburg or Mooseburg.

People have coined words like "Nipplegate" and "Strippergate" that refer to scandals that aren't related to a hotel called Nipplegate or Strippergate.

I'd be amused to learn of other examples. I'm not sure if there's much more to say in terms of what's going on behind the scenes. I guess in each case, after the original word became common, it got reanalyzed in the popular imagination. "Alcoholic" got reanalyzed as "alco" + "holic", "hamburger" got reanalyzed as "ham" + "burger", and "Watergate" got reanalyzed as "Water" + "gate".

So then people associate the suffix "-holic" with addiction in general, people associate the suffix "-burger" with patties on a bun in general, and people associate the suffix "-gate" with scandal in general, even though doing so isn't "true" to the etymological history.

And by the way, it would be kind of silly to say that therefore coinages like "chocoholic" are illegitimate or wrong. It would be a little like saying the expression "the algorithm" is wrong because the "al" in "algorithm" historically comes from a definite article, making the "the" redundant.

Or, at the very least, the time to object to "chocoholic" would have been when the word was first being used. Now that it's caught on, it's too late.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

MS Word and dangling modifiers

I'm currently using Microsoft Word (gasp, shudder) to co-write a textbook (or "textbooklet"). Today, I typed the following sentence:

"Quite often when using statistics, our data will involve more than one variable."

It promptly got underlined in green by Word's "grammar checker". Usually I don't trust the grammar checker, but in this instance, once I looked back at my sentence, I realized that it does commit one of those "dangling modifier" type of boo-boos. So I changed the sentence to

"Quite often when we use statistics, our data will involve more than one variable."

The grammar checker didn't object at all.

So I guess my question is, is that really what the grammar checker was objecting to? The dangling modifier? But how would it know? Isn't that more a question of semantics than syntax? Suppose you type a sentence like

"Raised in Arizona, it is easy to miss the open land."

How would you program a computer to try to recognize that "raised in Arizona" doesn't really modify the "it"?

Saturday, October 4, 2008

More grammar oddities

Why can we say

"A bird with red wings was observed."
"A bird with red wings was seen."
"The observed bird had red wings."

but not

"The seen bird had red wings."?