Complete And Correct

Calipers

Used properly, the English language is one of nuance and precision.  Used as many of the great unwashed do….it’s a wonder that even the pizza order is correct.

I have quoted Mark Twain’s admonition that “There’s a mighty difference between lightning, and a lightning bug.”

I recently stumbled across a blog post about euphemisms;

Euphemisms are generally used to change something icky into something more palatable. As George Carlin said, “Sometime in my life—no one asked me about this—toilet paper became bathroom tissue. The dump became the landfill. And partly cloudy became partly sunny.”

I heard Carlin’s debut album, shortly after it came out.  It was funny.  His later work – not so much.  It’s difficult to be funny for 40 years.  He began to make fun of the English language.  I didn’t find it terribly funny, because it was neither complete nor correct.

None of the above are euphemisms.  Early toilet paper was paper….like pages from a Sears catalog.  It beat using a corn cob. Soon, it was transformed into soft, absorbent tissue, used all through the bathroom, for applying skin cream, removing makeup, blotting lipstick, (a single square is faster and cheaper than an entire Kleenex) blowing your nose, or as emergency feminine hygiene material.  It is no longer paper, used only on the toilet.

We used to just dump and abandon garbage – hence, DUMP.  Nowadays, waste is shredded, some is incinerated, compost starter and soil is added and mixed, and the lot is bulldozed and landscaped into a re-usable landfill.

Media weather language is precise.  There are seven words to describe skies – from overcast, to cloudy, to partly sunny, to scattered (clouds), to partly cloudy, to sunny, to clear.  Partly sunny is 10% open sky.  Partly cloudy is 10% cloud.  They are not even vaguely the same.  One did not turn into the other, no matter what George falsely claims.

George lost me as a customer when he claimed that there were 3 words – flammable, inflammable, and non-flammable.  “Why 3??  Either it flams, or it doesn’t flam.”  Just a minute George, flammable means that something will burn.  Inflammable means that it will immediately, vigorously burst into flame.  A block of wood is flammable.  An open pail of gasoline is inflammable, so, there are 4 words, flammable – non-flammable, inflammable – non-inflammable.  If you’re going to bitch about something, even for comedy, it really helps your credibility if you know what you’re talking about.

I was in a medical center the other day, where an information station was set up under an umbrella. Emblazoned on the umbrella were the words SERVICE AMBASSADOR. I find nothing distasteful about the word INFORMATION, but I am entertained by the thought of a group meeting to find a supposedly better (and definitely more pompous) description of the services offered under that umbrella. SERVICE AMBASSADOR: Do you suppose the, ahem, ambassadors who staff that desk need congressional confirmation?

Like ‘toilet paper’, above, ‘Information desks’ have developed to provide far more services than mere information.  Every English-speaking country in the world has Ambassadors.  I can only hope that it was a vain attempt at humor, and not narrow-minded American provincialism that she felt any of them require U S Congressional confirmation.

Loblaw’s food chain came forward, and admitted to price-fixing on bread.  A letter to a newspaper complained that their fraud conviction was ironic.  1 – By voluntarily admitting wrong-doing, they received immunity from prosecution – so, no conviction.  2 – The bread was exactly as advertised, just too expensive.  What they did, was price-fixing, not fraud.  3 – What is ironic, is that the guy who complained, hasn’t got a clue what he’s talking about.

Come on people, Stop, Think, Understand!  English is a beautiful, accurate, expressive language.  Please learn to use it correctly.  That’s what I ask for.  What I’ll probably get….is that guy’s Hawaiian pizza.  😯

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Smitty’s Loose Change #7

Smitty's Loose Change

I bought some Salvador Dali bagels today. I got them from the Chernobyl Unicorn bakery.

Bagel 1

Bagel 2

They’re created from multi-colored dough with food dye in it. The son tells me that he heard that rainbow bagels will be an upcoming fad among Millennials, but I’ve not seen them, or any mention of them, since.  These were made of a bread dough, rather than a bagel dough, and didn’t toast worth a shit.

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In reading what others had to write about the blog-tag, ‘Truth,’ I was not surprised to find that 2 out of every 3 blog-posts was about God, or Jesus, or Christianity, or Church.  Those ‘Good Christians’ are sure full of something.  They call it faith.  I have a different name for it.

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When they discover the center of the Universe….A lot of people are going to be surprised that it’s not them.

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I wrote a post where I mentioned ‘double’ names like Todd Craig, Bradley Joe and Mark Terry, where either could be a given name or a family name, This happened because some male first names became family names.  I’ve thought that it only applied to male names, but recently I’ve been introduced to Stephanie Virginia ELLEN, Edna RHODA, Susan MARGARET, Barbara HILARY and Ann BEVERLY.

In my home-town, in the 1940s and ‘50s, boys were commonly given names like Beverly, Shirley, and Lynn. I knew that ‘Lynne’ was a girls’ name, but didn’t know that ‘Lynn’ was also considered only a girls’ name until the wife commented about it.

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Photo0047

The son went to our Osteopath recently, and got some shots of the ride of another customer who had not made it to the ‘Cruise Night’, downtown. It’s a rebuilt, 1934 Buick, according to the custom licence plate.  Love that vibrant color!

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I knew that I was really stressed, when I started getting on my own nerves.

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I recently hit a blog-site where the English Nazi nit-picker must have been a Colonel, not a mere private like me. He ranted about those who use ‘lie’ when it should be ‘lay’, and vice-versa.  Okay so far.  Then he attacked a nursery rhyme, and insisted that, “Now I lay me down to sleep.” was incorrect.  It should be ‘lie’.  Better men (or women) than him wrote that verse.  I ‘lay’ my book down, and ‘lay’ my child down to sleep.  I ‘lay’ my pillow down, and then, correctly using a reflexive verb, I ‘lay’ ME down to sleep.

I was reading a post about ‘Eggcorns’. Like Mondegreens, they’re those things that you don’t hear right, and then don’t repeat right, like “curl up in a feeble position,” “fire excape,” and “hone in on.”  The name Eggcorns itself comes from someone who didn’t even know about ‘acorns.’  The writer was doing fine until he started ranting about ‘conversating.’  “There’s no such word!  You’re not ‘conversating’, you’re conversing.”  It’s been an accepted, idiomatic word since 1965; even WordPress’s SpellCheck accepts it.

I recently used the Latin phrase, Caveat Emptor, and noted that it translates into English as Buyer beware.  GrammarCheck insists that it should be ‘Buyer bewares’.  (There, see?  It just did it again.)

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In my You Don’t Say post, I wrote of timid linguists who won’t say or write things they regard as “swear words.” Like Amsterdam, ‘I don’t give a tinker’s dam’ was a perfect replacement for the word damn, it being a small rivet-like stopper to repair a hole in old, non-stainless steel pots, without the damning N that could keep you out of Heaven.  Twice in a week I ran into, “I don’t give a tinker’s curse.” as a euphemism for a euphemism.  I need to (re)find the word which describes errors like this caused by advancing technology.

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