Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Talk about peevologists: Oh dear!

In Googling around a bit, I found, first of all, that epicaricacy has nearly 9,160 Google hits now. Only 2 years ago it had only 572 Google hits. It also now is in Wiktionary, which hasn't always been the case.

Friday, September 26, 2008

A reader's observation

Interesting.  A reader emailed me and pointed out that I used the same construction that I abhor...right in this conversation.  Here is what I had said:
On the other hand, those who have one point of view (and you can always predict what it will be), those who will argue their views on and on for days on end, those who don't pay any attention to other sides...they are anti-intellectual and probably not worth listening to.
Is this the same?  We have talked about it, and I said my verbiage sounds correct to me.  He said maybe it's a matter of "proximity."  Maybe.  But most likely I have made the very same mistake that I have criticized.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Language Log weighs in

The question about "my mother she is good" was asked on Language Log.  Here is what Liberman  said.   Cat's comment here seemed right on.  It is a very old construction, from Old English, and has been decreasing in use since the 1500s.  Further, according to Language Log, it is now considered either informal or archaic.  Interestingly, they used a comma in their examples, such as "my mother, she is good."  I think that adds a little more legitimacy to the construction, but not that much.  At any rate, the construction is called "left-dislocation."  I don't know if it requires the comma or not, but I am not going to ask.  Enough on this is enough!  

If you'd like to see our discussion about this on Wordcraft, here it is.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

"I am NOT wrong!"

Did I sound like a know-it-all in yesterday's entry?  Probably.  

One thing I've noticed as I've become more seasoned (I hate that word "older!") is that those who  listen to the other side, who think about other perspectives, who analyze and synthesize with a variety of evidence...are the thinkers I most respect.  On the other hand, those who have one point of view (and you can always predict what it will be), those who will argue their views on and on for days on end, those who don't pay any attention to other sides...they are anti-intellectual and probably not worth listening to.  Yes, I've been in the latter category sometimes, probably when it comes to language and certainly when it comes to politics.  But I don't like that about myself...or about others.

Therefore, I have taken a step back from my adamant post yesterday and have decided that linguistically and grammatically a comment like "My mother she is good" apparently is considered correct.  I've heard that from the experts (and I really don't want to be considered a prescriptivist or peevologist).  I'd never use that kind of phraseology, and I'd correct my kids if they were to use it.  But fair is fair.  It must be just a stylistic form that I despise.  I am not a linguist or language specialist or English teacher.   If they say I am wrong, so be it.

For the record, though, I don't see how the sentence, "my mother she is good" is an apposition.  Isn't it a given that a "mother" is a she?  In the example given in Wikipedia "my friend" and "Alice" are appositions because Alice describes my friend.  But does "she" describe "mother?"  I don't think so.  

Monday, September 22, 2008

Kalleh, the Peevologist

According to some linguist types on Wordcraft, I am a "peevologist" because I think the following is ungrammatical:

"My mother she is good."

Now come on.  I can understand that one can split infinitives or use "who" in the accusative, or end a sentence with a preposition.  But "my mother she is good" is perfectly acceptable? There was the admission that it could be considered a "usage"  error or an irregular style.  One argument was that it could be considered an apposition, as in "We the people of the United States...", but clearly it isn't.  Now, if it would have been written, "She, my mother, is good," I suppose so.  Then there was talk about it being often used by non-native speakers.  Perhaps, but does that make it grammatical?  Of course then there was the comment that we peevologists don't make a distinction between spelling, punctuation, and grammar.  This clearly isn't a punctuation or spelling error.


There.  I feel better already!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Economists and Alice

I've been reading everything I can get my hands on so that I can understand this economy situation we're having in the U.S.  It is really scary, to say the least.  In several reports, I had to smile (and think of Bob!) as I heard Alan Blinder, an eonomist at Princeton and a former vice chairman of the board of governors at the Federal Reserve, say, "We're deep into Alice in Wonderland's rabbit hole."

I've never really thought of these economists as reading much beyond Milton Friedman and the like.  It's great to see that they're well-rounded!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Thanks, Sean!

I've had problems keeping my Blog up because as soon as I think of a word post, I decide to post it on Wordcraft. Sometimes I post my thoughts in both places, but I'd like to have this be my own separate place. Sean gave me the idea that, from time to time, I should post "epicaricacy" limericks. That's a great idea, Sean!

I already posted this favorite of mine that Hic had posted on Wordcraft:

Want a word which we wish were deployed?
We all would be quite overjoyed
Someday to see
Replacing that beast, 'schadenfreude'.

Of course, the schadenfreude and deployed don't totally rhyme, but close enough! I like it.

However, here is one of mine:

Schadenfreude's a word I just hate;
Epicaricacy I await!
It means one is joyed
When another's destroyed.
It's John Simpson who holds the word's fate!

[note: ep-i-CAR-i-ca-SEE]

Friday, September 12, 2008

Tim thinks he found something new...

Too bad Tim Kalamaros doesn't read Wordcraft...or this Blog or WWFTD or Language Log or AWAD or Uncle Jazzbeau’s Gallimaufrey.  He must not be a logophile or a linguaphile.  Were he, he'd then realize that he has posted some really old news today.  He says, "Well I have found a synonym thanks to the internet, which has revived a very old English word for it."  Oh, Tim.  This is very old news.  We've talked about it on Wordcraft since December 14, 2002, and a search shows we've mentioned the word 309 times.  Further, we've brought in experts on the word, including Ammon Shea, co-author of "Depraved and Insulting English."  He's the one who introduced us to it being in Bailey's "Universal Etymological English Dictionary."  While Kalamaros did link to Bailey's, he surely doesn't introduce us to anything new.  

Monday, September 8, 2008


Back to words.  Here are the three non-winning limericks I wrote for the Washington Post Style Invitational.  Having read all the winning limericks, I can see why mine didn't win.  The Empress and I clearly have different standards, and taste, in limericks.  We've been judging limericks recently on Wordcraft in a fun thread that Bob started, so I am more familiar with how to judge winning limericks.  I'd probably not have chosen any of the ones from the WPSI.  Like anything else, it's a matter of opinion, which is something like "what is art"...though I assertively won't go there!

Here are my non-winners:

In the morning my husband will dawdle:
“The newspaper says that this fraud’ll
Put hundreds in jail!”
“Come ON, hon,” I hail!
“Hurry up or I’ll kick your cute caudal!” 

To write one that’s right is a plight,
That dactyl that’s doubled’s not trite!
The irony is,
In the poetry biz,
Your dactyls create the delight!

While I sat in the beauty salon
That jerk took my Louis Vuitton!
That dastard is cunning
But as she is running,
Impeccable taste she will don!

I admit that these were written quickly, and they might benefit from some workshopping.  Still, I like the first and third ones.  I tried to write about DDs with the second, but I don't think it works.  Here is how Wordcrafter's Proofreader edited it, and I like it:

To write one that’s right is a plight,
That dactyl that’s doubled’s not trite!
The irony is,
In the dactyly biz,
It’s higgledy-piggledy-light! 

Sunday, September 7, 2008

An open plea to America's women...

Well, things have evened out a bit.  Both recalcitrant posters have returned, though a little worse for the wear, I suppose.  Forums are not easy, that's for sure.   The rest of my life is better, too.   We humans are resilient.

I am going to continue with a non-word oriented Blog post, though I will get back to regular posting soon.   However, something very important is on my mind.  If I can connect with even one person, I will feel better.

Please, American women, don't vote for Sarah Palin just because she's a woman.   I've seen some CNN interviews where women have said they were going to vote for her because they are hockey moms or soccer moms or women, too.  That is insulting to our gender!

Remember one thing:  John McCain is the oldest person to run for the presidency.  The absolute oldest.  He has a history of cancer.  His vice president is quite likely to have to take office.  Quite likely.  His choice was much more important than Obama's.  

Knowing this, you must look at Sarah Palin's views on the issues.  Do you know her views?  If you are a pro-environmental person or pro-animal person, you'd not want her.  Here is an excellent article.  If those are your views, go for it.  If not, don't.

Did you know that Sarah Palin, who is anti-choice for women, believes that even if a 16 year-old were to be raped and become pregnant, she shouldn't have an abortion.  That is incredible to me. I can understand if individuals make that decision for themselves, but why should people control what others should do?  If that's your view, I can't understand it, but you should vote for McCain.

Did you know that Sarah Polin does not believe that all individuals in love should be able to marry? She does not think that homosexual couples should marry.   As above, if individuals believe that for themselves, that's fine.  But why should an individual control social decisions made about others? If that's your view, again go ahead and support this woman.  

Don't you often hear that Republicans favor less government interference than Democrats? That obviously is no longer true.  

What about the economy?  What has Sarah Palin done for the Alaskan economy?  Well, one thing she has done is to make sure every, single Alaskan receives a large rebate ...up to $13,000 for a family of four.  Why?  Because Alaskans have hit the jackpot because of the rising oil prices. Sarah Palin does not have any idea of the economic plight of the rest of the country.  Here is what one Alaskan academic has to say: "Oliver Scott Goldsmith, head of the Institute of Social and Economic Research at the University of Alaska. 'The state is awash in oil dollars, and the projection is that for the next few years we will have significant surpluses over and above current levels, in the billions of dollars.'"  With that surplus, she has decided to give it away.  If that's what you think should be done with oil surplusses in Alaska, you should support her.  If you think that money should be saved for research on fuel, you shouldn't.

Then of course there's her family.  I know, she thinks that should be off the table for discussions. Did any of you remember the hullaballoo by the conservative media about a very personal issue with Obama; that is, his religion?  Yet that was on the table.  I agree that Sarah's pregnant daughter shouldn't be discussed, though I also believed that Obama's minister or Clinton's affair shouldn't have been discussed.  Conservatives seem to want to eat their cake and have it too.  That's not possible. 

I do believe that Sarah Palin has too much on her plate to adequately serve our country, either as VP or president.  She has a 4-month-old special needs child, a 17-year-old pregnant child who is not yet married, and 3 other children.  She is being investigated by the Alaskan legislature for abuse of her governor powers.  This lady is a busy one.  Could she handle the presidency if suddenly plunged into that role?  What do you think?  My husband doesn't think I'd feel the same way about a man, but I beg to differ.  I did not think John Edwards had any business running for president when his wife was fighting breast cancer.  Sometimes we must make a decision to serve our families above anything else.  If you think Sarah Palin can handle the presidency, be my guest and vote for her.

Lastly, a comment about Sarah Palin and McCain saying the media has an Obama and liberal bias.  First of all, Obama, previously (no longer!), had gotten more than his share of articles, I agree.  However, studies showed that he also received more than his share of negative press. Who wins in that?  Surely McCain.  That drivel about the media is just that...drivel.  And Sarah Palin doesn't think the media or Internet should involve her daughter?  Well who put her in that situation? Was it the public?  The media?  McCain?  No!  It was Sarah Palin herself.  She chose to say yes when asked to run for the Vice President.  Barbara Brotman, from the Chicago Tribune, says it well. 

All I ask is that you consider the issues and not Sarah Palin's gender.  

Thank you!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Not the Best Week...

I know. This is supposed to be a "word" blog. It's no wonder I didn't get rated by the Lexiophiles Blog, here. Of course, Language Log is #13 and Languagehat is #14. Wordcrafter zmj's Blog got a 180 rating out of 250 (he deserves higher, of course). Mine? Zip. Nada. Too much chat...not enough intellectualism. So on to my rant:

Last week was a killer. Wordcraft went ballistic with 2 of our regulars out of there, at least for now. Then I tried to smooth ruffled feathers (with help from my husband), and that really messed things up. People are mad. I finally sent out a note to many of our members asking them to please post a bit more, and they've been wonderful about that. Perhaps we'll be back to normal sometime soon. I hope those 2 recalcitrant posters will start posting again!

The Cubs are sinking, it's hot and humid, and I have too much work and too little time. Plus my dad spent the weekend with us and lorded the losing Cubs over me.

Further, where is the worst place to make a grammatical error...and to be caught? On realbeer.com, of course. Good heavens. Their members aren't exactly Lynne Truss's model students! I thought it sounded wrong, but I wrote that my sisters said that Guinness tastes differently in Ireland. Of course, it's different. Steve caught me on it, calling me Ms. Wordcraft. Geez.

The only people who have had a worst week than I have are the Republicans. By the way, for all those Republican columnists who have complained about the media attention on Obama and not McCain, the tide has changed. So how's that working for you?

P.S. I am a nurse. I do realize that my week wasn't nearly as bad as it could have been. I was just being overly dramatic (it is "overly," right?).