“Has she been thoroughly vetted?” they ask. It’s an apt question. But do they know what the word actually means?
This morning, rising with formless, benignant wonderings about my future and vague remembrances of my long-ago youth, I surprised myself with an abrupt focus on Prof. Joshua Whatmough (“WUTT-moe”).
I googled and found a perfect description of his terrifying and exhilarating classroom (in 1947) put up on a webpage by one of Whatmough’s former students, William Harris, Professor Emeritus, Middlebury College. Prof. Harris’ recollections lit up a room I hadn’t been in for many years. Continue reading “Prof. Joshua Whatmough — Linguistics 120”
Over the last 15 years or so I have received perhaps as many as a dozen emails frantically explaining that I have millions of dollars waiting for me in Nigeria if only I would help some poor, benighted soul get his money out of a locked bank account. Usually the scam requires I provide my banking info so that funds can be transferred into my account. What the scammer hopes is that I am greedy or gullible enough to get involved…and then there will be complications that need some quick cash from me to bribe someone or pay for a transfer license, or some such expense.
Of course I’ve never done it. And I bet neither have you.
Why haven’t we? Continue reading “Nigerian Scam Mathematics”
Last week, the official North Korean news agency (KNCA) released a report stating: “Archaeologists of the History Institute of the DPRK Academy of Social Sciences have recently reconfirmed a lair of the unicorn rode by King Tongmyong, founder of the Koguryo Kingdom (B.C. 277-A.D. 668).” The Western press took this as another in the continuing series of North Korea’s inability to stay in touch with reality. Example: in 1994, a state-issued news story reported departed leader Kim Jong Il shot 38 under par on the 7,700-yard Pyongyang Golf Course!
Unicorns are real? Once again the world laughs at North Korea.
I am no apologist for their nonsense. But did the press get the unicorn story right? Was it state-sanctioned prevarication or trigger-happy mistranslation? Continue reading “North Korean Unicorns: Lost in Translation?”
It does, and nothing can stop the erosion and terraforming.
Some, however, stand like King Cnut, striving to hold back the waves.
In this spirit, Brit Tom Freeman has written a brilliant parody of Gilbert & Sullivan’s “Modern Major General” that places itself, like King Cnut, on the linguistic seashore as the tide inexorably advances (or declines…depending upon whether you are a descriptivist or prescriptivist.)
The piano plays…
I am the very model of an amateur grammarian
I have a little knowledge and I am authoritarian
But I make no apology for being doctrinarian
We must not plummet to the verbal depths of the barbarian Continue reading “The Very Model of an Amateur Grammarian”
I am working on the website for the second book in the Cheesie Mack series: Cheesie Mack Is Cool in a Duel. The book will be released later this month.
In this book, Cheesie wonders…since the word dud is so negative, why would a candy company name its product Milk Duds? Continue reading “Are Milk Duds Duds?”