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The Further Adventures of Hiatus
This hiatus just got REAL
Meh declared cromulent
The usual post-election vocab lesson
Contest FAIL
A National Punctuation Day Contest
No one will ever pick up on this hyperbole
A spirited defense of good grammar
Good Stuff: 8/29/08
Montreal: phonetics, purists, and even some terror...

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The Further Adventures of Hiatus
Sunday, November 22, 2009   10:17 PM

It may be some time yet before I get back this. It was fun, but I still don't have a comfortable blogging setup in my new house (my main distraction this past year) and I still haven't found the extra time I'll need in my week in order to start up again properly.

(If you didn't know, I'm an extremely slow blogger.)

I have no tolerance for glacial blogs and no idea when I'll be able to figure this out, so I don't want you waiting on some expected future update. I mean, I definitely didn't get back to you in six months after my last post. Sorry about that, by the way.

When and if I'm blogging here regularly again, I'll also start reading and commenting on my favorite language blogs again, so if you're hip to those that's how you'll know I'm back. See you in the blogrolls, as they say.

In the meantime I've been getting a lot of spam comments lately — the nasty things prey on old, neglected blogs like this one — so I'm going to disable new comments. I apologize for the inconvenience.

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This hiatus just got REAL
Monday, January 26, 2009   10:26 PM

I've had a lot of other stuff on my mind lately. Nothing bad. But I haven't had the inclination to update here or to read the several months' worth of language blog posts I've already missed.

I'm not sure when I'll be posting again; it won't be for another couple months at the very least. The Language is the People's RSS feed will not change in the meantime.

I'm just going to let the "language" tab on my own RSS reader lie fallow, so if you subscribe to my language links on delicious, don't expect many additions. And if you run one of the language blogs I've been a fan of in the past, don't expect me to be commenting on your site for a while.

For the time being this hiatus is indefinite, but there'll be another post sometime in the next six months (at the absolute latest) to let you know what the deal is.

Just wanted to say I hope things are well with you and that you'll feel like resuming the blog one day.


Really informative, thanks a lot for sharing it !

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Meh declared cromulent
Monday, November 24, 2008   3:09 PM

As you've probably heard, meh is going to be in the Dictionary, which means that it's now officially a real word. Those power-mad lexicographers have screwed us again.

Ben Zimmer has an omnibus post on meh up over at Word Routes, and I don't really have much to add to it. He even caught the miscitation of the 2001 Simpsons episode "Hungry, Hungry Homer" instead of the 1995 episode "Lisa's Wedding."

(Note to Collins Dictionaries: is your friend.)

I did want to point out, however, that Jeffrey Rowland of Overcompensating — no stranger to word rage — has posted a comic about meh. Check it out.

(I especially like how he's wearing a "The" shirt instead of the expected "Teh" shirt — for sale here, explained here. It's prescriptivism with style!)

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The usual post-election vocab lesson
Wednesday, November 5, 2008   10:10 AM

Bart: I am so sick of hearing about Lisa. Just because she's
doing a little better than me—

Marge: She's President of the United States!

Bart: President-*elect*.

Congrats to those of you who supported Obama. It's a giddy time for wonks and English geeks generally: we get to spend the next few months correcting President to the delightfully technical President-elect.

I don't see any U.S. newspapers using it, but there's an additional potential distinction, President-designate. Check out this 1976 entry from The American Political Dictionary:

Following the November popular election, the winning candidate is unofficially called the "President-designate" until the electors are able to ratify the people's choice. Under the Twentieth Amendment, the President-elect is sworn into office at noon on the twentieth day of January, and if the President-elect fails to quality at that time, the Vice President-elect then acts as President.

As Wikipedia points out, if the President-elect dies before being sworn in, then the Vice President–elect becomes President. If, however, the President-designate dies before being voted President-elect on December 15th, then the Electoral College could choose a different President-elect, and they are not required to choose the Vice President–designate.

Obviously the news outlets are just following the common usage of President-elect. For one thing, calling Obama President-designate might come off as the same sort of dog-whistle that mentioning the middle name Hussein is in some circles.

Still, odd that no copy editors have latched onto the December 15th date for "official" President-elect status; it seems like the sort of petty terminological minutia they usually enjoy.

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If you want to talk about minutiae, what about the fact that the day after the election is not always November 5th?

Ah yes! A rookie mistake on my part, not checking that date.

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Contest FAIL
Monday, September 29, 2008   6:44 AM

There were no entries, obviously... I'm still curious to see what someone can pull off, punctuation-wise, so I'll try to do this again next year with a bit more notice and perhaps a better incentive.

Meanwhile I proposed the same contest at my work and did get some entries, but they all had either too many periods or too many commas and so were all disqualified. I'm not sure if that's better than nothing...

(Isn't the snowclone [X] FAIL odd? Are nouns really the only "grammatical" inputs for [X]?)


I find the X FAIL snowclone weird. I thought it was for typos or silly mistakes, but the blog you link to uses it for unintentionally funny things that no one can fix, like town names.

I thought of your contest the other day while reviewing resumes (for a writing job, no less). One applicant wrote a six-line long sentence that included parentheses, a colon, AND a semi-colon. Can you really do that (use a colon and a semi-colon in a sentence)? I suppose you can so maybe the question is really SHOULD you?

oh, I guess that should have been six line-long, not six-line long.

posted by Anonymous mighty red pen at October 30, 2008 7:01 PM  

I suppose that John is my oldest friend... Of course that's "v kavychkakh" [inside quotation marks] as the Russians (!) say; I would hadly call him a real friend - still, when the chips are down he does often come through. But I sometimes wonder: is it better to be lost than saved by someone such as he?

Colons and semi-colons in one sentence would be acceptable (I reckon) if the colon were introducing a list and the semi-colons were separating the items in the list.

"The basket contained: cheese, melting slowly; ham, sliced thinly; and eggs, hard-boiled."

Oh, of course, JD, you're totally right. I might have seen something like a semi-colon followed by a colon ... it seemed legit. Scary, but legit.

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A National Punctuation Day Contest
Wednesday, September 24, 2008   9:04 AM

Happy National Punctuation Day!

(Dear official website people, I'm not linking to you because I can't even access your website at work. It has streaming media. Sincerely, Dan.)

So I don't know how to celebrate today. I baked a cake, but unfortunately it's not punctuation-themed; I should have invested in a comma cake pan.

Since the cake was a delicious failure, I've decided to offer a No-Prize (and perhaps something else, if the competition is fierce) to whomever can use the most punctuation marks in one properly-punctuated coherent paragraph without reusing any of them.

Punctuation marks that have to occur as a set (e.g. quotation marks) will count as one point total, and the set can still only be used once. There are no points or penalties for using capitalization or spaces or diacriticals, but use more than one period and you're out.

So have at it, if you're so inclined. Leave your submissions in the comments. The deadline is midnight tonight, Central time.

Bonus punctuation-related content: yesterday Dooce posted an amusing exchange of some slight relevance.

Carol: "Who needs best friends when I have you!!!???"

Me: "Carol, that was three exclamation points and three question marks. Someone out there right now is trying to write a paper and can't because you used up all the punctuation."

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No one will ever pick up on this hyperbole
Monday, September 22, 2008   1:29 PM

Speaking of signs, remember those guys who were fined for correcting a sign at the Desert View Watchtower in Grand Canyon National Park?

Well, the promised "Statement on the signage of our National Parks and public lands" is up at the old Typo Eradication Advancement League website, and... does anyone else think it's a little snotty?

Sample quotes:

"It is absolutely egotistical for one to think that one can tell others how to spell."

"The act of vandalizing or damaging signs on the National Parks and public lands has a historic and archaeological impact that one cannot underestimate."

"Certain of the signs may have been put into place at the birth of the park, thus representing as intrinsic a part of its identity as any tree or canyon [sic!] within the park."

Moreover, the statement points out twice that "Altering signs without the permission of the owner is a crime!!" Without reading too much into it, I'll just observe that the old TEAL posts that I've seen always only used a single exclamation mark. So this is a little odd.

(I've been offline for a few days, and I see now that friend-of-the-blog Mighty Red Pen already wrote about this a few days ago. She too found TEAL's sudden embrace of orthographic radicalism more than a little surprising.)

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It was almost like they'd been taken over by anti-grammar vigilante zombies: "We.will.not.vandalize.National.Park.signs" gahhhhhhh.

I posit hidden government-run descriptivist re-education camps in unmapped areas of the American Southwest. Or in a secret base within Pikes Peak, the obvious headquarters for any organization that doesn't think spelling matters.

Sounds like a lost X-Files episode. Where are Mulder and Scully when we need them?

Not so much snotty as something that they had to write but don't for a minute believe (except maybe the crime part).

love is not Classic Short Ugg Boots easy thing.if they want to be together forever they Classic Cardy Ugg Boots should adopt each other.noone is perfect Classic Tall Ugg Boots.everyone have his own defect .
can't understand

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posted by Anonymous Anonymous at November 15, 2009 8:54 AM  

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Think reactive, not reactionary