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The latest xkcd:

Mouseover title: "For the first time ever, the phrase 'I'd like to thank everyone at 4chan for making me successful and happy' is uttered."


  1. kip said,

    December 4, 2008 @ 5:15 pm

    He also has an accompanying blog post about phrases that have never been uttered (or at least typed on the internet somewhere that Google could find them):


  2. Mateo Crawford said,

    December 4, 2008 @ 9:34 pm

    Thanks to Language Log, I can no longer witness a conversation about never-before-uttered phrases without thinking of 'Don't feed your racist toothpaste to the cat'.

  3. Emily said,

    December 4, 2008 @ 11:15 pm

    I always like coming up, and indeed uttering, with never-before-uttered phrases– not too long ago I really did have occasion to say "I'm glad you agreed with my critique of Chuck Norris" (to my politics class professor). Also, what was the racist toothpaste?

  4. Nathan Myers said,

    December 5, 2008 @ 1:02 am

    The most popular toothpaste brand throughout southeast Asia, for decades, was "Darkie". At great expense and with no small amount of ingenious redesign they succeeded in changing the name to "Darlie" in the '90s. Don't feed any Darlie to the cat either.

    And don't stick a bee in the mud.

  5. LwPhD said,

    December 5, 2008 @ 1:21 am

    Wow, Language Log never ceases to amaze. Nathan Myers already mentioned the racist toothpaste before I got to it. The Darlie brand of toothpaste is still called Black Person toothpaste. (黑人) Here in its home in Taiwan, it is still rather popular. I would guess that an expat living in Taiwan might very well have told a friend not to "feed the racist toothpaste to the cat". I have referred to it as "racist toothpaste" on at least one occasion in jest. No cats involved though.

  6. outeast said,

    December 5, 2008 @ 5:58 am

    Serendipitously, today's Dinosaur Comics also makes reference to an entirely novel utterance: 'Oh hey, let's go steal the tv from the corpse house?" NOBODY HAS EVER SAID THAT UTAHRAPTOR!' There's a ghit or two now, of course, and doubtless a copycat crime and a budget horror movies script just waiting to happen – but T-Rex was right at the time. At least as far as Google knows…

  7. Stephen Jones said,

    December 5, 2008 @ 6:55 am

    The Iranians have a detergent called 'Barf'.

  8. Mateo Crawford said,

    December 5, 2008 @ 9:41 am

    For the interested, here's the ancient Language Log racist toothpaste post, which of course is almost entirely about unique utterances and features racist toothpaste only very briefly, but which contains a link to a blog post that details the original racist toothpaste/cat incident.

    The Darlie brand of toothpaste is still called Black Person toothpaste.

    Is this supposed to evoke the extremely white-toothed effect one perceives in some people with dark skin because of the visual contrast, or is the toothpaste named after a brand mascot, or something else? I had always assumed 'Darkie' was an unfortunate coincidence, not a deliberate slur.

  9. language hat said,

    December 5, 2008 @ 10:01 am

    The Iranians have a detergent called 'Barf'.

    That would be because barf is the Farsi word for 'snow.'

  10. Zubon said,

    December 5, 2008 @ 10:48 am

    That would be because barf is the Farsi word for 'snow.'

    I hear that Farsi has 28 words for…

  11. Lazar said,

    December 5, 2008 @ 11:01 am

    @Kip: That reminds me of George Carlin's routine about sentences that have never been said.

  12. Roger Lustig said,

    December 6, 2008 @ 2:08 pm



  13. Merri said,

    December 8, 2008 @ 9:36 am

    Speaking of modified brand names, this is a good place to recall that the washing stuff "Dreft" -a purely arbitrary name- was at first coined as Drek, until somebody at P&G realized that this is the Yiddish word for s**t.

    [(myl) Do you have a citation for that story? As previously discussed, most cross-language branding stories seem to be urban legends. ]

  14. John Cowan said,

    December 8, 2008 @ 2:10 pm

    The "Carlos Silva chatted up …" sentence mentioned in that post is still unique (aside from the post itself) after all these years.

    I myself (brag, brag) was noted by Mark Liberman himself for being the first (and so far the last) to instantiate the phrase Cthulhu-based tutorial on ergativity.

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