Ere Words Were

Woe were we when once we wooed wowed with words we would vow to wed where naught taught to tie the knot a language log in front of us saw how it was on a woeful wordful sea. To whoo in the waves of a spelling sea to whit her way through a sea wrack…

Fear and Loathing in Lexical Vegas

Over at Language Log we find a discussion on “words we hate.” I can’t tell if discuss is one or not. But some words strike some as literally offensive, or cause physical stress, a kind of lexical anxiety. This is not about disdain for the simple malapropism, or of academic scorn for the wrong word…

Where Listening Gives Rise to Silence and Fizzles

There lived in our neighborhood some time ago a locally famous pianist who enjoyed great demand for piano lessons from parents for their children. The demand was such that a prospective student had to interview with the teacher. One of the interview “questions” involved listening to chords: the child identified a chord as “happy” or…

Me epistle on “Moopetsi meepotsi”

Whenever challenged with words unknown we go first to the OED then to Finnegans Wake. We did so this morning looking for meep, following yet another Language Log thread. We found meep in Joyce’s Finnegans Wake, on page 276, in footnote number 4: “Parley vows the Askinwhose? I do, Ida. And how to call the…

Written after a visit to Language Log

We look forward to our daily dose of Language Log. Language has undone so many. This morning there’s a post on the mateless orange, for she can’t be rhymed, yet she’s not alone.            The Mateless Orange The shelves are bare of rhymes for orange. Not only that, but my dish is empty of porridge. You’ve…

Good night, my some-corpus one

We’ve been enjoying a discussion over at Language Log on the difference between the words someone and somebody. Maybe Meredith Willson’s Marian the librarian’s song “Good Night, My Someone,” from the musical The Music Man, illustrates a point that might be made for the ear making the distinctive decision, a vote for tone: “Good night,…