Grumpy old wordsmiths

I’m with Sean. I’m happy to drop the cultural imperialism stuff if you are.

Besides, Sean going purple with rage over an Allanis Morrisette song is much more entertaining.

I read somewhere that it was considered truly ironic that she won a Grammy for her third album.

Now, excuse me while I AKS for a cuppa coffee while I SMACK ME BITCH UP.

I’m a programmer by trade, but that doesn’t stop me from using “reserve” instead of “pre-order”. I have to admit, though, that your post reminds me of George Carlin talking about “pre-boarding”, or getting into the airplane before you get into their airplane.

Sean - 100% with you on Alanis Morissette’s Ironic. I have ranted and raved about that in exactly the same way. Ugh.

I have to disagree with you there. I love googling for things (notice I’ve even dropped the capital!). I see the verbing of nouns (see what I did there?) as a natural part of the development of English, within good reason. As I always do, I will quote R.L. Trask, author of Mind the Gaffe: The Penguin Guide to Common Errors in English, on the matter:

Are you seriously saying that you always ensure you say “She ran a comb through her hair” instead of “She combed her hair”? “She puffed on a cigarette, its smoke pluming upwards” instead of “She smoked…”? Oh, wait - surely “puffed” is a verb from “puff” and “plumed” a verb from “plume”.

Language evolves all the time, and I think that nouns becoming verbs is a big - and valid - part of this, allowing for better and more easy communication (as opposed to the bastardisation of language inflicted by the grocer’s apostrophe and suchlike). R.L. Trask again:

Of course, Trask does go on to say that some noun-verbs are ludicrous and make little sense, hindering understanding rather than facilitating communication. He gives the example of a book entitled Who Shall Mother?.

I think “to google” is a worthy entry into the language, though, as is “to mouse” and so forth.


“Aks” is such a fascinating mispronunciation – I’d love to read a thorough study of it. Here in the States, that construction carries a lot of baggage – it’s loaded as hell – although that baggage seems to have been shipped in from all over the place. There are racial undertones to “aks” to be sure, and class undertones, and educational and regional ones as well. Anyway.

I figured out why that “guy in a plane” line bothers me so much in that song. It’s the defiant ignorance of the thing: ironic deals with direct opposition to expectation. Yet here’s a guy who EXPECTS to die in a plane crash, then gets on a plane for the first time and dies in a plane crash, just like he thought he would. It’s not just wrong, it’s elaborately wrong – a long story founded on utter miscomprehension, then topped off with a self-congratulatory little in-joke (see, we used the “other” ironic there too. We’re being clever!) It literally* makes me dizzy to think about it – like trying to comprehend infinity.

*Yes, I actually got dizzy thinking about it, but that might just be all the coffee. As for “literally” – don’t even get me started on that shit.


The overuse of the word “literally” is used to brilliant comic effect in the comedy Peep Show. Not sure if that ever made it to the states, though.

It is the proper noun that gets me. Google is a registered trademark as is Xerox, Kleenex, Coke, and many other “common” words that have lost value and significance through usage (not just proper nouns, but irony, awesome, literal, like to name a few overused and hence undervalued words). Maybe it is the greedy capitalist in me that says that the verbing of these proper nouns is inappropriate. I agree with the premise that the language is evolving, and have no issues with to mouse, to comb, to rock, etc. It is that damned leading capitol that gets me.

As to simply losing the capital letter that leads a proper noun… Not sure how that gets decided, but I am not sure I like the idea of folks “jaysening” any more than I would like them “Jaysening”.

Quite frankly I am surprised that this actually bothers me (the proper noun thing). It wasn’t until the school system sent home an assignment that wanted the students to “Googleâ„¢” a person that I actually exploded. I wonder, if they dropped the capitol and lost the trademark, would I have been able to continue life without giving a rip?

My poor kids. They are doomed. When they realize the they have a 50% chance of inheriting my personality we will need to start investing in serious therapy.

I am on the wrong side of that statement, but I laughed when I read it. And for the record nouns make great verbs.

BTW which came first, the verb or noun form of “drink”? Just thought of that one.

Lol. (Side note: I used to hate abbreviations such as “lol” - including the fact they were no longer even capitalised - but now I quite like them, though only for online discussions, obviously. “Lol” indicates companionable laughter in an online discussion much better than “That is very funny” or “Heh heh”, both of which can be read as sarcasm.)

What about hoovering? I hate saying “vacuum cleaning”. Then again, I don’t say it much more than I do it…


Lazy Americans call it “vacuuming”. Silly, lazy Americans call it “sweeping”. Both verbized nouns by the way.

The 'net abbrv. used to bother me. Now they only really bother me when folks SAY them. Evidence in the statement I just heard over the cube wall: You have to read this! You will ell oh ell.

I have to go kill him now. BRB


You missed a step. In order to get on the plane, the guy had to believe that his expectation of crashing was unreasonable. He got on the plane with the expectation of surviving. It IS ironic, because he had to convince himself that the plane wasn’t really going to crash. It’s not ironic for the other passengers, because they ostensibly knew that flying was risky.

Irony is sometimes described as a combination of confounded expectation and “perverse appropriateness.” I think that applies here.

IMHO is “Internet Chat Slang”, a whole new behemoth of atrocities done to the english language in order to “save time” typing.

Here is a huge list of these

Also what is become awful is “AOLSpeek” which is rampant all over the internet. Inbreeding and cheaply purchased eMachines have led to a whole new language for the “artard”.

AOLSpeek is by far the worst thing on the planet. IT is aweful and should lead to electrocution of the person behind the keyboard for even typing it.

For those that don’t know what AOLSpeek is I will give you an example by “quoting” John’s original post and use an AOLSPEEK translator for the finished product


or as the 12 year olds today would say


Plus, don’t they know they’ll go blind?!

:laughing: :laughing:…here we go! …from the gutter, into the sewer! :laughing: :laughing:

Popcorn: You’re defending the internal logic of this song? Really?

I thought we were in the gutter a few posts back until I realized that in England, “Hoovering” meant using a vacuum cleaner.

…we gave you autonomy, and what thanks do we get in return?
You infest our lexicon with ambiguity :frowning: tch! tch!

For the record, OMGWTFBBQ was conceived as a piss-take of just that sort of semi-txt language.

Gave? To prod yet another overworked phrase just a little harder, bitch please. :slight_smile:

Alright, next on my list: “Something I like to call…” (and derivations) used to take credit for a coinage that’s existed for eternity. “It’s something I like to call ‘green-collar labor’” said a U.S. presidential candidate (yesterday, I think). Really? You like to call it that because… it’s been around since the late '90s? See above, re an overworked phrase.

OH!!! There’s one. The misplaced-abbreviated-decade apostrophe! The apostrophe replaces that which is not there – so '90s is correct, replacing 19. 90’s, however – as they used to say in the 90s – not so much.

Meandering (another one?) across Westminster Bridge late last night, I thought about this thread. Big Ben was staring at the London Eye, and the London Eye was staring back. Maybe it was an appropriate if chilly spot to contemplate the relationship between novelty and tradition in language.

English has always been a bastard language and continues to be bastardised (hmm, see that?), mostly beneficially I believe. So personally I welcome all importations, introductions, neologisms, coinages, new constructions and fresh usages that achieve the aims of efficiency and precision in communication and, if possible, beauty and elegance, such an achievement being all that one would wish for (slightly cumbersome, but better than “whichâ€