owlmoose: (teamoose)
This Sandwich Alignment Chart went around Twitter awhile ago, and I realized that it had been far too long since I ran a poll about what constitutes a sandwich. So, here you go. Vote, argue about your vote in the comments, send your friends.


Petty rant

Jun. 10th, 2013 10:46 am
owlmoose: (quote - flamethrower)
I don't know why this bothers me so much, but I am so, so tired of this idea that pronouncing "gif" as "jif" is the most ridiculous thing ever "because it starts with a G".

Giraffe, gin, ginger, gigantic, gif.

Both are legitimate pronunciations, arrived at by different linguistic reasoning, so can we please just accept that and move on, instead of flooding Tumblr with stupid text posts and macros and other nonsense?
owlmoose: (Default)
Grammar fact of the day: "cannot" and "can not" are not interchangeable, and in fact mean very different things.

"Cannot" means "It is impossible." If you say "I cannot go to the store", you're saying that it is literally not possible for you to go to the store. Maybe you're at work and aren't able to leave, maybe the weather is so bad that it keeps you in your house, maybe you're too busy with other things to get away.

On the other hand, "I can not go to the store" means that it is possible for you not to go the store. You could go to the store if you wanted, but if you don't want to go, you don't have to go. Nothing is requiring it.

"Can't" is always a contraction for "cannot". There is, as far as I know, no contraction for "can not". Which is just as well, because this usage is pretty rare.

This mini-rant brought to you by the sign in my parking garage which contains this error*, and drives me batty every time I notice it.

*"Cars left after closing hours can not be retrieved until the next business day." Which, taken literally, means that you can choose to leave your car until the next business day. I have a feeling that this is not what the sign-makers had in mind.
owlmoose: (Default)
Via SE, the Atlas of True Names, maps of the world and Europe that show the etymology of country, region, and city names. Some are fairly straightforward ("Land of Indians", "Virgin's Land", "Sea of Sand"), but there's a lot of fun stuff, too. Can you guess where "Land of the Chaste One" is? Or "Canal of Many Fish", or "Town of Respectables"?

But I think my favorite must be "I Don't Understand You!"

I wish the big map images on this page were enlargeable. Of course, then they'd be a lot less likely to sell the print versions. I have to admit, I'm kind of tempted.
owlmoose: (Default)
One topic that is an endless source of fascination to me is the growth and change of language. Today, I came across a particularly neat case study: the addition of the word "meh" to the Collins English Dictionary. Two interesting takes on the subject:

First, from GOOD: Meh Makes Its Mark

Good overview, including a bit of musing on what makes a "real word" (it's the source of the quote I used to title this post) and why meh has gained enough popularity that it makes its debut in a dictionary of British English, despite having American origins -- apparently it first appeared on The Simpsons. Author Mark Peters also lists several other Simpsons-isms that have made their way into common usage -- "d'oh", of course, and "cromulent", but also "yoink" (another word that I've been using for years without realizing its Simpsonic origins).

The other is from Word Routes, the language blog at Visual Thesaurus (one of the coolest language tools on the Internet): Mailbag Friday: "Meh"

More on whether or not meh is a "real word" or just a "sound effect". The trouble, as author Ben Zimmer sees it, is that meh is an interjection, and lexicographers tend to immediately see them as suspect when compared to other parts of speech. Most interjections are onomatopoetic (sound like what they mean) and operate outside the traditional rules of grammar. Zimmer lists the 163 interjections found in Merriam-Webster Collegiate dictionary, and notes that many of them ("aw, bah, eek, eh...") don't feel like "real words" either. His conclusion is that meh is a "real word" because people use it like one and, descriptivist that I am, I tend to agree.

As a side note, meh was selected from a pool of neologisms submitted by the public. One of the other finalists was "frenemy", meaning an enemy disguised as a friend. Although not as broadly useful as meh, I'm pretty fond of that particular coinage -- a single word, used to convey a complex concept but immediately obvious in its meaning. If that's not what a new word is for, then what is? (Although my browser's spellcheck doesn't recognize either of them yet. But give it time.)


Sep. 21st, 2007 12:57 pm
owlmoose: (Default)
So tonight, the school where I work is having a Prom, and I'm sort of taken aback by that. Not that they're having a formal dance -- we had those in college too, but we called them "formals" (or "semi-formals", depending). "Prom" sounds like high school to me. Did anyone else have "proms" in college?

Also, the theme is described as "retro". Which is also fine, except that by retro, they mean the 1980s. The '80s are retro now? No, no, I refuse to believe that I am that old. ;)

I kind of wish I could stick around and see what "retro '80s wear" means to this crowd, but I already have plans for the evening. Oh well, there will be pictures.
owlmoose: (Default)
Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] bottle_of_shine for pointing me at an article about the grammatical constructions of cat macros.

It's a superficial look at the topic but the implications are fascinating.

Also, cute pictures, so how can you go wrong?

Edited: Okay, this is the funniest thing I've seen in ages. The Trouble with Tribbles in lolcats speak. Link via SE.
owlmoose: (Default)
Ganks from all and sundry.

Regional accent meme )

Evilness meme )
owlmoose: (Default)
So I started Fruits Basket (just a few pages in, but it's definitely promising). I know people have explained this to me before, but I'm already getting lost with all the forms of address in Japanese. My understanding is that -san denotes respect and -chan denotes affection (and I realize I'm probably missing all sorts of nuances there), but what does -kun mean? Are there others I need to remember?
owlmoose: (Default)
When it's a burrito.

Is a burrito a sandwich? Judge says no.

"Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Locke cited Webster's Dictionary as well as testimony from a chef and a former high-ranking federal agriculture official in ruling that Qdoba's burritos and other offerings are not sandwiches.

The difference, the judge ruled, comes down to two slices of bread versus one tortilla. "A sandwich is not commonly understood to include burritos, tacos and quesadillas, which are typically made with a single tortilla and stuffed with a choice filling of meat, rice, and beans," Locke wrote in a decision released last week.

In court papers, Panera, a St. Louis-based chain of more than 900 cafes, argued for a broad definition of a sandwich, saying that a flour tortilla is bread and that a food product with bread and a filling is a sandwich."

Naturally, I'm reminded of the poll you all filled out on this subject some months back. It seems that my friends list agrees with the judge in this instance. Nice work!

Edited: A much flashier poll on the same subject from Boston.com


Nov. 6th, 2006 02:38 pm
owlmoose: (Default)
The school where I work is really big on personal and professional development. They offer lots of online seminars and, since I'm on the fast track to management, I'll get to take a lot of them. Today's "webinar" was on different modes of listening. These things are almost always connected to an online personality test, and so today I took one on my listening style. Turns out I'm an empathic listener. Who knew? (Answer: me. And likely everyone else. Not a shocker.)

Anyway, it was a relatively interesting refresher on communication styles. The factoid that sticks with me: only 7% of communication is verbal (i.e. through words). Almost 40% comes from tone of voice and the remaining 50%+ is body language. This has incredible implications for how we communicate online -- we're trying to get by with a tiny fraction of the information we usually use to understand what another person is telling us. Of course I already knew this in theory, but I found the reminder useful.

The other tidbit I wanted to share: the average person can listen at a rate of 500 words a minute. But the average person can only speak at about 150 words per minute. No wonder it's so easy to get distracted during a lecture.

Just some musings on a Monday afternoon.
owlmoose: (Default)
Wow, the hamburger/sandwich/both question sure provoked a response. I think it's time for a poll.

[Poll #663931]
owlmoose: (Default)
Past midnight and T isn't home yet. He must be liking his job.

Still loving the Brahms. Loving it even more now that singing isn't sending me into copious coughing fits (just two during the three-hour rehersal). I guess that means the cold is almost gone. About time! After chorus I grabbed dinner with D & P, and we got into a discussion about the definition of "sandwich". Specifically, we were trying to decide whether a hamburger is sandwich. At the basic core of the definition, I think you have to say yes -- food between two pieces of bread is a sandwich, yes? But P pointed out that if you asked someone to get you a burger by referring to it as a " sandwich", they would likely be confused. Maybe a burger fits the textbook definition of sandwich, but no one really calls it that. So that lead us into trying to come up with the characteristics that would differentiate a burger from a sandwich. In the end, we decided that the patty form factor for the meat (or whatever -- one needs to account for veggie burgers, after all) is the key distinction. P still wouldn't concede that my fried chicken breast on a bun was a "sandwich", though, although eventually he decided to agree that it isn't a burger. I think he wanted a third term, but we couldn't come up with one.

It's fun, having pedantic friends. (I'm not kidding. I really do think that. All kinds of wacky discussions result. I enjoy them.)

Scratch that first line -- he just walked in. And a cat walked out. Damn; I thought they were past the escaping phase. Too much to hope for, I guess. At least they've gotten less aggressive about it.

The Tuesday song game will go up at 9:30am PST or thereabouts.
owlmoose: (Default)
"The Grammarian's Five Daughters"

This was linked to on [livejournal.com profile] fanficrants today. An odd place to find it, perhaps, but it's a simply glorious piece, unusual and beautiful. Highly recommended -- I think many of you would appreciate it.


Dec. 21st, 2005 04:07 pm
owlmoose: (Default)
Haven't done one of these in awhile, so the links are piling up...

owlmoose: (Default)
Jon Carroll goes medieval on some bad prose.

"It is a tough row to hoe, a large stone to roll up the hill, a dirty job. Nevertheless, the work of encouraging literacy among practitioners of public relations must continue. What persuasion cannot alter, ridicule may change."

Apparently this column, published on Monday, is a rerun from 1986. It still made me cackle with laughter.
owlmoose: (Default)
Jed points to an excellent Jon Carroll column from last month on words, their meanings, and sometimes the lack thereof.

"The more I work with words, the less I seem to know about them. When I started writing, I was sure that words were my friends.... Now I feel that they are no more than passing acquaintances. If I stare at a word long enough, its spirit takes flight from its body, and the husk left behind has no meaning at all."

I have always loved Jon Carroll. If I could write like anyone in the world, it would be him. He writes about life, he writes about politics, he writes about cats, he writes about anything and everything. But no matter what subject he covers, I always come away enlightened, or entertained, or moved, or impressed by a turn of phrase, or all of the above.

I have gotten out of the habit of reading his column lately. That's something I need to start doing again.

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