Archive for Words words words

Strictly correct plurals of flower names

It has come to my attention that many laypeople, even Language Log readers, are using incorrect plurals for flower names. "Geraniums" indeed! "Crocuses", for heaven's sake! Please get these right. There follows a list of 30 count nouns naming flowers, together with their approved grammatically correct plurals. Don't use incorrect plurals any more. Shape up.

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Indiscrepancy

Donald Trump Jr., in a telephone interview on 1210 WPHT talk radio, 9/15/2016:

They're trying to make sure that the moderators
are ultimately not fair to my father during the debate
and all of them understand that hey
you're part of the left and the media has been her number one surrogate in this
without the media
uh this wouldn't even be a contest
but the media has
built her up they've let her slide on every you know indiscrepancy
on every lie on every
you- D N C uh you- in-
game trying to get Bernie Sanders out of the thing I mean
if Republicans were doing that they'd be warming up the gas chamber right now

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What's in the sachet?

At my hotel here in Brno, Czechia, the shampoo comes in small sachets, manufactured in Düsseldorf, labeled with the word denoting the contents in a long list of suitable European Union languages. I can't tell you which languages they picked, for reasons which will immediately become apparent. Here are the first four:

  1. Shampoo
  2. Shampoo
  3. Shampooing
  4. Shampoo

Just so you're sure.

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Horribles and deplorables

Hillary Clinton's "basket of deplorables" is destined to become one of the lasting catchphrases of the campaign season.

Clinton's use of the phrase (which she says she now regrets*) appeared in a speech delivered at a fundraiser on Friday night:

You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump's supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic — you name it.

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And now the cyber is so big

From Donald Trump's 9/6/2016 Town Hall in Virginia Beach VA:

Michael Flynn: and- and to stay- to stay on ISIS a little bit because this is a really- I think this is an important topic and it's certainly at the- it's- it's one of the national security threats that our country faces today
you have described at times
different components of a strategy, military, cyber, financial
and ideological could you just expand on those four a little bit

Donald Trump: well that's it and you know cyber is becoming so big today it's become a thing uh something that
a number of years ago a short number of years ago wasn't even
a word and
now the the cyber is so big and you know you look at what they're doing
with the internet
how they're
taking recruiting people through the internet and part of it is the psychology because so many people think they're winning
and uh you know there's a whole
big thing even today psychology where CNN came out with a big poll
their big poll came out today that Trump is winning it's good psychology ((you know))
it's good psychology

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Japan: crazy over portmanteaux

No matter where I go these days, I hear young people shouting to their friends, "I'm playing Pokémon Go", which they pronounce "pokey-mon go".  It would be an understatement to say that, for the past few weeks, Pokémon Go has been a veritable craze.  Yet most people who play the game probably do not realize that the name "Pokémon" is a Japanese portmanteau based on two English words:  poketto ポケット ("pocket") + monsutā モンスター ("monster"). 

"What's in a name — Pikachu, Beikaciu, Pikaqiu?" (5/31/16)

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Cutesy hairdresser names

I've heard it said that among the retail establishments most addicted to cutesy punning business names are hairdressing salons. I mean, you don't find law practices called Law 'n' Order to Go, do you? Or a hardware store called Get Hard? Or a butcher's called Meat and Greet? But with hairdressers… Well, I don't know all that many myself; just about 150 or so that I've personally seen the signs for…

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The extent of Melania's plagiarism

The Trump campaign officially maintains that there was no plagiarism in Melania Trump's speech at the Republican convention. Campaign chairman Paul Manafort was astonishingly disingenuous: "These were common words and values"; "To think that she'd be cribbing Michelle Obama's words is crazy"; "There's no cribbing. What she did was use words that are common words"; "Care and respect and passion, those are not extraordinary words"; "50 words, and that includes and’s and the’s and things like that." But it is not words we are talking about, is it? It's word sequences. And you do not need to look at many word sequences, even quite short ones, before you start finding phrases that have apparently never occurred before in the entire history of the world (if we can judge by the sample of it that the web knows about).

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Innocuous words that sound sexual

FLM writes:

A colleague (who has request anonymity) and I have developed a fondness for perfectly innocuous words which, to the linguistically unwashed masses, sound sexual. My colleague's example sentence is

Because her husband was intestate, she sought to dilate her fungible assets; despite cunctation for titivating, she managed to masticate and lucubrate far into the night.

A website of possible interest: Chuck Lorre Productions — words that confuse the CBS censor

I'd be curious to see how your Language Log aficionados might augment this body of knowledge.

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Humor among the Finns

According to The Economist (July 9, 2016, "Just visiting" [p.30 in UK edition]), a joke was "making the rounds" in Finland back in 2008 when Russia invaded part of Georgia (and Finns aren't laughing at it quite so much since the Ukraine conflict flared up):

Vladimir Putin lands at Helsinki airport and proceeds to passport control. "Name?" asks the border guard. "Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin," answers the Russian president. "Occupation?" asks the border guard. "No, just visiting," answers Mr Putin.

But wait a minute, I thought: that relies on a pun. In English the word for a militarily backed presence and control of governmental functions imposed by one state on the territory of another happens to be identical with one of the words for a person's regular paying job or profession. Are the two also, by pure accident, identical in Finnish (a non-Indo-European language)? That somehow feels implausible to me.

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Language games at The Economist

An ad that's been popping up for me on the web recently:

I expect that others have used asterisks in this particular way before, but web search engines seem generally to treat "**UK" as plain "UK" — perhaps someone else will have better luck finding precedents. (Of course, general taboo-avoidance via asterisks is common and has been discussed here many times.)

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Point of no Breturn

The portmanteaux just keep on coming — most recently in "Brexit's fallout: Adrift", The Economist 7/2/2016, we get a section heading "Point of no Breturn". See also (updated from the comments):

[link] Are You Brexhausted yet?
[link] Not “Brexit” but “Braccident”.
[link] Newspaper headlines: 'BoJo Brexecuted' on Tory 'Day of Treachery'
[link] #brexecution
[link] Is this the beginning of a Canary Wharf Brexodus?
[link] Are You A Brintrovert Or A Brextrovert?
[link] Brexit, Bremain or Brextraneous?
[link] GLUM BLOND Inside story of Tories’ Borexit: How BoJo’s career was left in tatters a week after he thought he’d be next PM
[link] Bregret? Regrexit? Don’t bet on it.
[link] #brexshit
[link] Brexistential crisis

So far, brexhortation, brextrinsic, and a few others seem to be open.

For previous forays into the  lEUxicon, see

"Grexicography", 6/22/2015
"OtherCountries_ExitFromTheEU: better portmanteaux", 6/23/2016
"You Brexit, you bought it", 6/25/2016

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"Among the New Words"

Ben Zimmer, Jane Solomon, and Charles Carson, "Among The New Words", American Speech May 2016:

In this installment we continue our consideration of items nominated at the American Dialect Society’s 2015 Word of the Year proceedings […]

The overall winner is considered here: they used as a singular third-person pronoun, a gender-neutral (or “epicene”) alternative to the binary of he and she. One might object that there is nothing particularly new about singular they, as the Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.) includes examples
back to the fourteenth century […]

What is genuinely new, however, is the use of they to refer to a known person in order to transcend the binary of he and she in the construction of a “non-binary” gender identity, such as transgender, gender-fluid, genderqueer, or agender.

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