Verbatim

Articles from Vol. 28, No. 1, Winter

Bibliographia
A great many books have found their way to the VERBATIM offices in the past few months, so it's time for another brief roundup. The first is Anu Garg's delightful A Word A Day (Wiley, US$14.95, 0471230324), and if you are a subscriber to VERBATIM...
Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Pig Latin but Were Afraid to Ask
'Oday ouya easkspay Igpay Atlinay'? Thousands of people all over the world do--speak Pig Latin, that is. Pig Latin is a constructed or "play," language that has been popular for years among children--and adults. It's generally used as a secret...
Getting Hitched or Shacking Up and Other Domestic Arrangements
My aunt once referred to my father, with disdain, as "that man your mother lives with." I informed her my parents are legally married. I had seen the marriage certificate. My aunt glared at me. "She still lives with him." True, people who are legally...
Hellenic Damnation and Other Afterlives. (Classical Blather)
Everybody likes to see the bad guys get their just deserts, if not in this world then in the next, and the Greeks were no different. They believed in a number of divinities whose express purpose was to punish wrongdoers, notably Nemesis (her name is...
Horrible Dictu
"Men who have sex twice a week or more," according to a newspaper's healthy living page, "have 50 per cent less chance of dying than those having sex less often, say doctors at the University of Bristol." In other words, if a man has enough sex, he...
I before E?
There is a school of thought, admittedly not a large one, but a school nonetheless, that argues that being classed as a complete dunderhead in one's school years is an almost certain guarantee of great success later in life. Of course, nine times...
Miscellanea
The classified advertising rate is 40 cents per word. A word is any collection of letters or numbers with a space on each side. Address, with remittance, VERBATIM, 4907 N. Washtenaw Avenue, Chicago, IL 60625. It'll Never Show On Camera--an insider's...
Prewarned Is Prearmed
Since learning some time ago that a friend of mine has a pronounced negative reaction to abuses (as he sees them) of the prefix pre- in word formations, I have made a special point of bringing these to his attention whenever I find them. Evoking petty...
Say It with Words
Let's be frank. To say I love you is magical yet arduous. The phrase is dense with commitment, renders the utterer vulnerable, carries huge, long-term risks, more often than not leads to irrational behaviour, emotions unhealthily ride a roller-coaster,...
The Verbal Ape: How Evolutionary Pressures Set the Stage for Language Purists
After one of my performances at a storytelling festival, a couple came up to say they enjoyed my stories. It is important to note that I tell many of them in the vernacular of my native Ozarks. The woman simply complimented me, but her husband tempered...
Translating the Language of Birds
Many hobbyists who look for wild birds call themselves birders rather than birdwatchers. In addition to being able to identify species by plumage, skilled birders tend to be familiar with bird songs and calls. Vocalizations sometimes provide the only...
Two New Kids on the Block. (Bibliographia)
I suspect other readers of VERBATIM also share a sense of excitement whenever a new American English dictionary makes an appearance. We've struck it rich this time, with two dictionaries from distinguished publishing houses: The American Heritage College...
War Is Hell, Naming Them Ain't Too Easy Either
When historians sit down to write about a war, they must consider the political and economic causes of the conflict, but rarely what to call it. The major wars of the United States of America have come down to us already named. The name that stuck,...
What's So T about a T-Shirt? A Textual and Etymological Analysis of T-Shirts. (Classical Blather)
The history of the T-shirt is the history of the twentieth century in microcosm: from unspoken to outspoken, from humble origins to a symbol of rebellion, to the badge of the cool jet-setter. So what's in a T-shirt for the language lover? The name...