Sea of Noise

Tue, 04 Aug 2009

Russell Kirk's Fun With Words

I've been packing up some of my books for storage this summer, and finding a variety of things stuck between the pages as I do—from old bills and paystubs to unused gift certificates and bookmarks from long-gone bookstores. In my copy of Russell Kirk's The Conservative Mind: From Burke to Eliot I found this delightful list of words and phrases:

I'd guess that all but a handful of these words were new to me at the time ("lineaments", though, I'd seen before thanks to an obsession with William Blake during high school), and even now I see several (like the timely "jobbery") that I really ought to make an effort to remember.

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Sun, 23 Dec 2007

There Ought To Be A Word For...

...the feeling you get when you stub your toe, right before it actually starts to hurt.

I'd say "dread", but somehow that doesn't quite capture the feeling. I suspect that German has the word I'm looking for. Like "sehnsucht", but not.

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Sat, 24 Jul 2004

Words: Woe and Wonder

The CBC's web site includes and excellent monthly feature that discusses English usage (from a Canadian perspective, eh?): Words: Woe & Wonder. Is that flag at half-mast or half-staff? Why is the former leader of Iraq referred to as Saddam instead of Mr. Hussein? Delightful. [via metafilter]

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Fri, 23 Jul 2004

IA Jargon

Jeffrey Veen brings us a few bits of information architecture jargon, including "Boil the Ocean", "Deep Diving", and "S2BU" (Sucks To Be You)...

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Mon, 12 Jul 2004

Txting vs. Handwriting

Clive Thompson asks, "Is txting killing handwriting?" And what does that mean for our cognitive styles?

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Thu, 24 Jun 2004

Eats, Shoots & Leaves: So What?

Timothy Noah reviews Eats, Shoots & Leaves and tells us why nobody's learning anything from Lynne Truss:

Some people botch their punctuation because they lack a proper education, typically because they lack sufficient money to acquire one. Some of them botch it because English is their second language, and you never know your second language as well as your first. But the bulk of them don't know because they don't care. I wish they did, but they don't. And unless they plan on earning their living as writers, it isn't likely to hold them back very much, if at all.

Indeed. That's why, Noah suggests, the popularity of Truss' book has more to do with smugness than punctuation.

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Fri, 18 Jun 2004

The Language of Vietnam

Linguist Geoff Nunberg considers the language of the Vietnam War (audio).

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Mon, 07 Jun 2004

The Jargon File

If you're having trouble communicating with your favorite networking geek or UNIX hacker, you might find The Jargon File handy.

(Today I talked to a sysadmin who didn't know what know what foobar was. What are they teaching the kids these days?)

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Sat, 05 Jun 2004

Grammar Tips With A Difference

If you feel the need to bone up on your grammar but find The Elements of Style a tad too dry, The Celestial Grammar might be just the thing you crave. Written with the contributors of in mind, it's sure to improve the next dirty story you write. (And, if so, you'll send me a copy, won't you?)

Incorrect: I should have lain the key to the handcuffs out of her reach before I left the room.
Correct: I should have laid the key to the handcuffs out of her reach before I left the room.

[Thanks to R for this one.]

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Wed, 02 Jun 2004

Literary History of the Beat Generation

Steve Silberman has made available the reading list from Literary History of the Beat Generation, a course taught by Allen Ginsberg at Naropa Institute in 1974. Links to online copies of the readings are included where possible. [via boingboing]

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Fri, 28 May 2004


Another delightful word seems to have been coined when I wasn't looking.

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Sun, 23 May 2004

Engrish of the Day

Get your daily dose of Engrish! [via Language Log]

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Sat, 22 May 2004

The Lobotomized Weasel School of Writing

Are today's students being taught by lobotomized weasels to write like lobotomized robots so they can be graded by computers? Crispin Sartwell seems to think so:

Obviously, if your no-child-left-behind funds depend on your test scores, you will teach your kids to write essays that move a computer to tears. But the idea that computers can grade essays in the first place is one that could only have occurred to people who have no idea how to write or how to read, people whose existence is redundant and hence indefensible: in short, the people who administer the education of our children.

[via Reason]

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Thu, 01 Apr 2004

Science Fiction Citations

A group of volunteers has undertaken an interesting project to provide information for the Oxford English Dictionary on citations for terms used in science fiction.

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Fri, 28 Nov 2003

"love chess"

A delightful new phrase, courtesy of "love chess".

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Thu, 27 Nov 2003

"Master and Slave": PCs Deemed Politically Incorrect in LA

As reported yesterday by ZDNet UK and others, and confirmed in detail at, the County of Los Angeles has determined that "[b]ased on the cultural diversity and sensitivity of Los Angeles County" the terms "master" and "slave" as used to refer to primary and secondary drive controllers are "not acceptable identification label[s]".

The mind boggles.

Wait until someone explains DNS servers to them...

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Wed, 05 Nov 2003

OED Lowers Prices

Good news for logophiles! OED Online recently added a new monthly subscription plan for individuals. It's still too expensive for me, but it's very tempting.

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Thu, 16 Oct 2003

"joe job"

More new jargon: "Joe Job". The concept has certainly been around a long time, but I've only started seeing this term used fairly recently. (Of course, I haven't had time to keep up with Usenet in years, so maybe that's why.)

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New jargon I've been seeing a lot lately: "cartooney".

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