Archive for November, 2011


I feel ashamed. I am so unobservant that I never noticed before that the name of the Italian dessert called tiramisu is simply the Italian phrase that translates into English as "pull me up". And I never noticed that until last Thursday night when I happened to eat at an Italian restaurant in Edinburgh (Librizzi, on North Castle Street) with a menu that translated the Italian word on the dessert list into the English phrase pick-me-up.

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Kids today yesterday

The most recent xkcd:

The mouseover title: "If you identified with the kids from The Breakfast Club when it came out, you're now much closer to the age of Principal Vernon."

The Breakfast Club, in case you happen to have missed it, was a 1985 movie about high-school detention.* And the guy who played Principal Vernon was born in 1939 and died in 2006 at the age of 67, so he was 45 or 46 in 1985; and someone who was 15 or 16 then would be 41 or 42 now, so Randall's guess turns out to be quantitatively exact pretty close.

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When it comes time to saving the Constitution

Some elderly guys in northeastern Georgia have apparently been  plotting diverse and extensive mayhem, in ways that I personally found surprising  (Scott Shane, "4 Georgia Men Arrested in Terror Plot", NYT 11/2/2011):

Four Georgia men who were part of a fringe militia group were arrested on Tuesday in what the Justice Department described as a plot to use guns, bombs and the toxin ricin to kill federal and state officials and spread terror.

The men, all aged 65 and over, were recorded telling an F.B.I. informant that they wanted to kill federal judges, Internal Revenue Service employees and agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, according to court documents.

“There is no way for us, as militiamen, to save this country, to save Georgia, without doing something that’s highly, highly illegal: murder,” one of those charged, Frederick Thomas, 73, of Cleveland, Ga., was recorded telling the informant.

“When it comes time to saving the Constitution, that means some people have got to die,” he said.

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Another milestone for "eggcorn"

Eggcorn, that most successful of Language Log's neoLogisms, has entered another major dictionary. Back in September 2010, I reported that eggcorn had been included in the latest updates to the Oxford English Dictionary, as well as the dictionaries available at Oxford Dictionaries Online (New Oxford American Dictionary on the US side and the Oxford Dictionary of English on the UK side). The latest dictionary to jump on the eggcorn bandwagon is the American Heritage Dictionary, the fifth edition of which was released this week. Here's the entry that's available on their new website:

egg·corn (ĕg kôrn)
A series of words that result from the misunderstanding of a word or phrase as some other word or phrase having a plausible explanation, as free reign for free rein, or to the manor born for to the manner born (from William Shakespeare’s Hamlet).

I especially appreciate the "plausible explanation" part of the definition, since that was a key element missing from the Oxford entries.

But wait, there's more!

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Just words

Today's Stone Soup:

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Herman Cain on China's nuclear ambitions

In a recent PBS NewsHour interview, Herman Cain answered Judy Woodruff's question "Do you view China as a potential military threat to the United States?" in a way that left many people wondering whether his confessed unfamiliarity with world politics included being unaware that China has a nuclear arsenal since the 1960s:

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So yes they're a military threat.
They've indicated that they're trying to develop nuclear capability,
and they want to develop more aircraft carriers like we have.
So yes, we have to consider them a military threat.

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One conlang to rule them all

In Non Sequitur for 10/26/2011, Danae reveals to Lucy her latest plan for world domination peace:

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