Comments on my posting on penultimate (in penultimate Frisbee) took three directions: a comic association with antepenultimate; complaints about a relatively recent non-standard use of penultimate (to mean ‘absolutely final, absolutely the best’); and complaints about using ultimate and unique and other so-called “non-gradable” adjectives as gradables (modifiable by degree adverbials).
Archive for the ‘Innovations’ Category
Jon Lighter on ADS-L comments on my usage:
Arnold’s unremarkable syntax from the “Chicano” thread: ”the first OED2 cite, from 1947 Arizona, is somewhat disparaging in tone.”
In case some young folks don’t realize it, this journalistic use of a year-date as an adjective [well, prenominal modifier] is pretty “new” …
The usage is so natural to me that I thought nothing of it, nor did I recognize it as a relatively recent innovation or associate it with journalists.
From Anne Curzan’s column on the Lingua Franca blog yesterday:
Slash: Not Just a Punctuation Mark Anymore
Lots of us use the slash (/) in writing to capture two or more descriptions of the same thing, with a meaning something like “or,” “and,” or “and/or” — e.g., “my sister/best friend” or “request/require.” The slash typically separates two things that are the same part of speech or parallel grammatically; and we can say that slash out loud if needed: “my sister slash best friend.”
Now I wouldn’t write that phrase down that way, with the slash spelled out, but students tell me they now often do.
On the heels of my little note on “Manly Deeds, Womanly Words” (a comment from John Baker notes that this is “the motto of the Calvert family “Fatti maschii parole femine” loosely translated [from Italian] as “Manly deeds, womanly words” ”) came two more items on male/female differences: a piece in the NYT Sunday Review on the 21st (“The Tangle of the Sexes” by Bobbi Carothers and Harry Reis); and an Alex cartoon in the London Telegraph on men as rational, women as emotional.
Every so often I post on dubious, regrettable, and even pointless portmanteaus; as I said in “More dubious portmanteaus” (here),
The world of portmanteaus is crowded with playful formations that are unlikely to survive for long (Higgsteria), including many that are just for ostentatious display (Piranhaconda and Sharktopus). Then there are those that appear to be meant to be useful, but are awkward and unlikely to succeed: for instance the dubious portmanteaus Innovatrium, womance (and femily), and twunk. Two more have recently been logged on ADS-L: mediot(s) and preglimony.
Lawsages: useless in any context.
A new comment on “Dubious portmanteaus” (from last July):
I know this is an older article but I was just thinking today how much I hate portmanteaus. I hate ‘fandom’ and ‘cosplay’. I also hate the word ‘kidlet’, although I’m not entirely certain that it is a genuine portmanteau. I asked some friends who are parents and they seemed to think it is a combination of kid and piglet.
Two things here: the rage at a whole class of words (in this case, at portmanteaus in general), and the three specific examples that set off the commenter’s rage: fandom, cosplay, and kidlet.
Question: Given that an event that is depicted in a movie (or television show) is said to have happened on-screen, how do you refer to an event that is depicted in a comic strip?
Noted yesterday: the innovation throuple (based on couple), to describe a romantic or sexual threesome, triple, or triad.
Chris Ambidge wrote to report a mailing from the San Francisco LGBT Community Center, celebrating its ten-year anniversary; on-line story here. Chris would have said tenth anniversary, and found ten-year anniversary redundant (like PIN number, he said), because ‘year’ is already contained in anniversary. This is one of two complaints about the usage of anniversary: the perceived pleonasm of n-year anniversary. The other complaint is about the perceived contradiction in n-span anniversary for spans other than year, especially month (one-month anniversary, six-month anniversary, six-week anniversary) — again, because ‘year’ is contained in anniversary. The second complaint seems to be the older one; it’s the only one reported in MWDEU (in 1989).
The second innovation presumably arose from a weakening appreciation of the etymology of anniversary, so that the word can be extended to recurring spans of time other than a year (though the default span of time was still a year). Then people began supplying year, for clarity, giving us things like ten-year anniversary, as distinct from ten-month anniversary and ten-week anniversary.
And the complaints piled up.
From yesterday’s New York Times Magazine, in the “One-Page Magazine”, Lizzie Skurnick’s regular “That Should Be a Word” feature, appropriate for National Grammar Day:
(Gruh-MAN-doh), n., adj.
1. One who constantly corrects others’ linguistic mistakes. “Cowed by his grammando wife, Arthur finally ceased saying ‘irregardless.’ ” See also: Dictaplinarian (enforces correct pronunciation); Spellot (takes a red pen to all documents).