The Etymology of “Boob”

 Posted by on 26 April 2012 at 2:00 pm  Funny, Language
Apr 262012
 

Around the time when I answered my webcast question on public breastfeeding, the following fabulously funny image was floating around Facebook. Happily, multiple people posted it on my wall, and it gave me a giggle every time.

Two Plans to Improve English Orthography

 Posted by on 17 April 2012 at 8:00 am  Funny, Language
Apr 172012
 

First, the plan commonly attributed to either Mark Twain or M. J. Shields:

For example, in Year 1 that useless letter “c” would be dropped to be replased either by “k” or “s”, and likewise “x” would no longer be part of the alphabet. The only kase in which “c” would be retained would be the “ch” formation, which will be dealt with later.

Year 2 might reform “w” spelling, so that “which” and “one” would take the same konsonant, wile Year 3 might well abolish “y” replasing it with “i” and Iear 4 might fiks the “g/j” anomali wonse and for all.

Jenerally, then, the improvement would kontinue iear bai iear with Iear 5 doing awai with useless double konsonants, and Iears 6-12 or so modifaiing vowlz and the rimeining voist and unvoist konsonants.

Bai Iear 15 or sou, it wud fainali bi posibl tu meik ius ov thi ridandant letez “c”, “y” and “x” — bai now jast a memori in the maindz ov ould doderez — tu riplais “ch”, “sh”, and “th” rispektivli.

Fainali, xen, aafte sam 20 iers ov orxogrefkl riform, wi wud hev a lojikl, kohirnt speling in ius xrewawt xe Ingliy-spiking werld.

Second, the plan to turn English into German. (I remember seeing this forwarded via e-mail when I was in college, and I’m delighted to have found it again!)

The European Commission have just announced an agreement whereby English will be the official language of the EU rather than German, which was the other possibility. As part of the negotiations, Her Majesty’s government conceded that English spelling had some room for improvement and has accepted a 5 year phase in plan that would be known as “EuroEnglish”:

In the first year, “s” will replace the soft “c”– Sertainly this will make the sivil servants jump with joy. The hard “c” will be dropped in favor of the “k”. This should klear up konfusion and keyboards kan have 1 less letter.

There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year, when the troublesome “ph” wil be replaced with the “f”. This will make words like “fotograf” 20% shorter.

In the 3rd year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expected to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible. Governments will enkorage the removal of double letters, which have always been a deterent to akurate speling. Also, al wil agre that the horible mes of the silent “e”‘s in the language is disgraceful, and they should go away.

By the 4th yar peopl wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing “th” with “z” and “w” with “v”. During ze fifz yar, ze unesesary “o” kan be dropd from vords kontaining “ou” and similar changes vud of kors be aplid to ozer kombinations of leters. After zis fifz yer, ve vil hav a reli sensibl riten styl. Zer vil be no mor trubls or difikultis and evrivun vil find it ezi tu understand ech ozer.

ZE DREM VIL FINALI KUM TRU

Ha! English spelling rawks!

The Story of Collectivism

 Posted by on 12 April 2012 at 2:00 am  Ethics, Funny, Language, Politics
Apr 122012
 

Jim M posted the following awesome little story on Facebook:

This is a story about four Collectivists named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody. The consensus was that there was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anyone could have.

Apparently, the author is unknown.

Video: The Meaning of Faith

 Posted by on 1 March 2012 at 8:00 am  Language, Religion, Videocast
Mar 012012
 

In Sunday’s Philosophy in Action Webcast, I discussed the meaning of faith. The question was:

Is it wrong to use “faith” to mean “trust and confidence in a person”? Some people talk about having “faith” in their friends or in themselves – and by that, they mean that they trust and have confidence in those people. Is it wrong to use “faith” in that way? In other words, blind faith is wrong, but is all faith blind faith?

My answer, in brief:

The term “faith,” when used to refer to trust or confidence in a person, suggests that such is not justified or warranted based on facts. That’s why I avoid the term, and I suggest that others do the same. However, a person is not corrupt for using it.

Here’s the video of my full answer:

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Pronunciation Poem

 Posted by on 30 January 2012 at 2:00 pm  Funny, Language
Jan 302012
 

Pablo Romero sent me this awesome poem about the insanity of English pronunciation, as a follow-up to the poem on grammar:

Dearest creature in creation
Studying English pronunciation,
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse and worse
I will keep you, Susy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.
Tear in eye your dress you’ll tear,
So shall I! Oh, hear my prayer,
Pray, console your loving poet,
Make my coat look new, dear, sew it!
Just compare heart, beard and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word,
Sword and sward, retain and Britain.
(Mind the latter, how it’s written).
Made has not the sound of bade,
Say said, pay-paid, laid, but plaid.
Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as vague and ague,
But be careful how you speak,
Say break, steak, but bleak and streak.
Previous, precious, fuchsia, via,
Pipe, snipe, recipe and choir,
Cloven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, shoe, poem, toe.
Hear me say, devoid of trickery:
Daughter, laughter and Terpsichore,
Typhoid, measles, topsails, aisles.
Exiles, similes, reviles.
Wholly, holly, signal, signing.
Thames, examining, combining
Scholar, vicar, and cigar,
Solar, mica, war, and far.
From “desire”: desirable–admirable from “admire.”
Lumber, plumber, bier, but brier.
Chatham, brougham, renown, but known.
Knowledge, done, but gone and tone,
One, anemone. Balmoral.
Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel,
Gertrude, German, wind, and mind.
Scene, Melpomene, mankind,
Tortoise, turquoise, chamois-leather,
Reading, reading, heathen, heather.
This phonetic labyrinth
Gives moss, gross, brook, brooch, ninth, plinth.
Billet does not end like ballet;
Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet;
Blood and flood are not like food,
Nor is mould like should and would.
Banquet is not nearly parquet,
Which is said to rime with “darky.”
Viscous, Viscount, load, and broad.
Toward, to forward, to reward.
And your pronunciation’s O.K.,
When you say correctly: croquet.
Rounded, wounded, grieve, and sieve,
Friend and fiend, alive, and live,
Liberty, library, heave, and heaven,
Rachel, ache, moustache, eleven,
We say hallowed, but allowed,
People, leopard, towed, but vowed.
Mark the difference, moreover,
Between mover, plover, Dover,
Leeches, breeches, wise, precise,
Chalice, but police, and lice.
Camel, constable, unstable,
Principle, disciple, label,
Petal, penal, and canal,
Wait, surmise, plait, promise, pal.
Suit, suite, ruin, circuit, conduit,
Rime with “shirk it” and “beyond it.”
But it is not hard to tell,
Why it’s pall, mall, but Pall Mall.
Muscle, muscular, gaol, iron,
Timber, climber, bullion, lion,
Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, and chair,
Senator, spectator, mayor,
Ivy, privy, famous, clamour
And enamour rime with hammer.
Pussy, hussy, and possess,
Desert, but dessert, address.
Golf, wolf, countenance, lieutenants.
Hoist, in lieu of flags, left pennants.
River, rival, tomb, bomb, comb,
Doll and roll and some and home.
Stranger does not rime with anger.
Neither does devour with clangour.
Soul, but foul and gaunt but aunt.
Font, front, won’t, want, grand, and grant.
Shoes, goes, does. Now first say: finger.
And then: singer, ginger, linger,
Real, zeal, mauve, gauze, and gauge,
Marriage, foliage, mirage, age.
Query does not rime with very,
Nor does fury sound like bury.
Dost, lost, post; and doth, cloth, loth;
Job, Job; blossom, bosom, oath.
Though the difference seems little,
We say actual, but victual.
Seat, sweat; chaste, caste.; Leigh, eight, height;
Put, nut; granite, and unite.
Reefer does not rime with deafer,
Feoffer does, and zephyr, heifer.
Dull, bull, Geoffrey, George, ate, late,
Hint, pint, Senate, but sedate.
Scenic, Arabic, Pacific,
Science, conscience, scientific,
Tour, but our and succour, four,
Gas, alas, and Arkansas.
Sea, idea, guinea, area,
Psalm, Maria, but malaria,
Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean,
Doctrine, turpentine, marine.
Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion with battalion.
Sally with ally, yea, ye,
Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, key, quay.
Say aver, but ever, fever.
Neither, leisure, skein, receiver.
Never guess–it is not safe:
We say calves, valves, half, but Ralph.
Heron, granary, canary,
Crevice and device, and eyrie,
Face but preface, but efface,
Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass.
Large, but target, gin, give, verging,
Ought, out, joust, and scour, but scourging,
Ear but earn, and wear and bear
Do not rime with here, but ere.
Seven is right, but so is even,
Hyphen, roughen, nephew, Stephen,
Monkey, donkey, clerk, and jerk,
Asp, grasp, wasp, and cork and work.
Pronunciation–think of psyche–!
Is a paling, stout and spikey,
Won’t it make you lose your wits,
Writing “groats” and saying “grits”?
It’s a dark abyss or tunnel,
Strewn with stones, like rowlock, gunwale,
Islington and Isle of Wight,
Housewife, verdict, and indict!
Don’t you think so, reader, rather,
Saying lather, bather, father?
Finally: which rimes with “enough”
Though, through, plough, cough, hough, or tough?
Hiccough has the sound of “cup.”
My advice is–give it up!

Also, in case you missed it in the comments of the last poem, C Andrew posted this gem (with a small correction from me):

How to spell fish: gh o ti

the gh from enough, the o from women and the ti from emotion.

I love that!

Funny Grammar Poetry

 Posted by on 2 January 2012 at 2:00 pm  Funny, Language
Jan 022012
 

There’s nothing quite like poetical grammar humor:

We’ll begin with a box, and the plural is boxes,
But the plural of ox becomes oxen, not oxes.
One fowl is a goose, but two are called geese,
Yet the plural of moose should never be meese.
You may find a lone mouse or a nest full of mice,
Yet the plural of house is houses, not hice.
If the plural of man is always called men,
Why shouldn’t the plural of pan be called pen?
If I speak of my foot and show you my feet,
And I give you a boot, would a pair be called beet?
If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth,
Why shouldn’t the plural of booth be called beeth?
Then one may be that, and three would be those,
Yet hat in the plural would never be hose,
And the plural of cat is cats, not cose.
We speak of a brother and also of brethren,
But though we say mother, we never say methren.
Then the masculine pronouns are he, his and him,
But imagine the feminine: she, shis and shim!
Let’s face it – English is a crazy language.
There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger;
Neither apple nor pine in pineapple.
English muffins weren’t invented in England.
We take English for granted, but if we explore its paradoxes,
We find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square,
And a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.
And why is it that writers write but fingers don’t fing,
Grocers don’t groce and hammers don’t ham?
Doesn’t it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend?
If you have a bunch of odds and ends and
get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?
If teachers taught, why didn’t preachers praught?
If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?
Sometimes I think all the folks who grew up speaking English
should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane.
In what other language do people recite at a play and play at a recital?
We ship by truck but send cargo by ship.
We have noses that run and feet that smell.
We park in a driveway and drive in a parkway.
And how can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same,
While a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?
You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language
In which your house can burn up as it burns down,
In which you fill in a form by filling it out, and
In which an alarm goes off by going on.

And in closing, if Father is Pop, how come Mother’s not Mop?

Via Robb on Facebook.

Pure English Geeky Awesome

 Posted by on 4 August 2010 at 7:00 am  Language
Aug 042010
 

I think I’m in love.

(Via Trey Givens)

Labor? Chest Pain? Pish Posh!

 Posted by on 21 August 2009 at 1:01 pm  Funny, Language
Aug 212009
 

I’ve long been irritated by people’s use of quotes to indicate emphasis. Hence, I find The “Blog” of “Unnecessary” Quotes damn funny. A few days ago, I saw the following sign in the waiting area of the Littleton Hospital Emergency Room. I just couldn’t resist taking a photo, although I’m sure that the other people in the waiting area thought me a bit strange.

I’m pleased to know that the hospital takes these so-called conditions seriously. Anyone who claims to have them will surely be sent straight to the psych ward!

(In all seriousness, Littleton is an excellent community hospital. Thankfully, they provide medical services, not grammar lessons.)

Give Back, Schmive Schmack

 Posted by on 14 January 2009 at 12:20 am  Environmentalism, Ethics, Language
Jan 142009
 

Here’s an interesting even if year-old tidbit, sent to me by William Stoddard. A list of words that ought to be banished in 2008 includes the following:

GIVE BACK – “This oleaginous phrase is an emergency submission to the 2008 list. The notion has arisen that as one’s life progresses, one accumulates a sort of deficit balance with society which must be neutralized by charitable works or financial outlays. Are one’s daily transactions throughout life a form of theft?” – Richard Ong, Carthage, Missouri.

“Various media have been featuring a large number of people who ‘just want to give back.’ Give back to whom? For what?” – Curtis Cooper, Hazel Park, Michigan.

The suggestions for 2009 are have already been posted. They include this gem:

CARBON FOOTPRINT or CARBON OFFSETTING – “It is now considered fashionable for everyone, tree hugger or lumberjack alike, to pay money to questionable companies to ‘offset’ their own ‘carbon footprint.’ What a scam! Get rid of it immediately!” Ginger Hunt, London, England.

Mike of Chicago says that when he hears the phrase ‘carbon footprint,’ “I envision microscopic impressions on the surface of the earth where an atom of carbon forgot to wear its shoes.”

Christy Loop of Woodbridge, Va., says that ‘leaving a carbon footprint’ has become the new ‘politically incorrect.’ “How can we not, in one way or another, affect our natural environment?”

Exactly!

Hangovers

 Posted by on 1 June 2008 at 12:23 pm  Language, Science
Jun 012008
 

The May 26, 2008 New Yorker has an interesting article on the history and science of hangovers. I especially liked their bit on international terms used to describe them:

Some words for hangover, like ours, refer prosaically to the cause: the Egyptians say they are “still drunk,” the Japanese “two days drunk,” the Chinese “drunk overnight.” The Swedes get “smacked from behind.”

But it is in languages that describe the effects rather than the cause that we begin to see real poetic power. Salvadorans wake up “made of rubber,” the French with a “wooden mouth” or a “hair ache.” The Germans and the Dutch say they have a “tomcat,” presumably wailing. The Poles, reportedly, experience a “howling of kittens.” My favorites are the Danes, who get “carpenters in the forehead.”

In keeping with the saying about the Eskimos’ nine words for snow, the Ukrainians have several words for hangover.

(Via Cosmic Log.)

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