Verbatim

Articles from Vol. 28, No. 3, Autumn

A Hoagie by Any Other Name
"I wanna shake off the dust of this one-horse town. I wanna explore the world. I wanna watch TV in a different time zone. I wanna visit strange, exotic malls. I'm sick of eating hoagies! I want a grinder, a sub, a foot-long hero! I want to live, Marge!...
Blog This
Since the late 1990s, the weblog, or blog (or, uncommonly, 'blog) has been one of the most popular methods of publishing on the World Wide Web. A weblog is a web page that is updated on a more-or-less daily basis with entries or posts. The content...
Epistola
An expression I have been hearing more and more, and still more, to the point of irritation, is various forms of "... go ahead ..." It may be "... go ahead and ..." or "... Just go ahead and ...," etc. It came to my attention at a conference...
Epistolae
Kathleen E. Miller's article on naming wars (VERBATIM XXVIII/1) mentions the major participants in the First and Second World Wars. Curiously, she ignores Russia, the biggest player in both wars in terms of the size of army and number of casualties....
Ersatz Languages
Some years ago, I asked S.I. Hayakawa, the noted linguist, what the technical term was for what I called "ersatz languages." Sam was Senator Sam then, known as "Sleeping Sam," because of his habit of going to sleep on the floor of the U.S. Senate....
Ex Cathedra
Readers who devoured The Professor and the Madman (in the UK, The Surgeon of Crowthorne) won't hesitate to pick up Simon Winchester's latest, The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary (256 pages. 2003. Oxford University...
Famous Last Words
I heard a story recently about a man who, knowing that his days were numbered, wrote out a speech to be delivered at his funeral. It was nothing especially spiritual or philosophical, just a final goodbye to friends and family. His best friend was...
Greguerias: Squeals/pipsqueaks? the Work of Ramon Gomez De la Serna
Born in Madrid in 1891, and later living in Buenos Aires, Ramon Gomez de la Serna (he telescoped himself to just 'Ramon') first published his greguerias in 1910. This cornucopious author was also a globettroting lecturer, orating on occasion in circuses...
Horribile Dictu
One of the spare emails which I receive most often is headed "Best Dating Site for Interracial Singles." This bothers me. I've met plenty of multiracial singles and innumerable interracial couples--but surely you can't be an interracial single? ...
It's Only Music, Don't Be Scherzo
"Recent neuroimaging data," writes Aniruddh Patel, "suggests an overlap in the processing syntactic relations in language and music." (1) Perhaps it comes as no surprise that the field of music is rich in its owl terminology describing gradations of...
Latin Lovers
Eleanor Dickie, in her Latin Forms of Address (2002), counts 244 terms of endearment against 149 insults, a statistic that may weaken the image of Romans as unsentimental cold fishes. Just a sample here, omitting the scores of obvious adjectives...
Let There Be Light
As someone who tends to drink low calorie beer, it occurred to me recently that some brands are marketed as light beer and others as lite beer. The difference between the two is a matter of stylistic ambience, and I by far prefer the former. To be...
Mighty Fine Words and Smashing Expressions: Making Sense of Transatlantic English
(305 pp. 2003. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195157044. $27.50) Long before the spot of unpleasantness known as the Boston Tea Party, American English was busily diverging from its British parent. The current differences are not such that a New...
Rogue Scholar: The Sinister Life and Celebrated Death of Edward H. Rulloff
by Richard W. Bailey, (xii + 281 pp., 2003, University of Michigan Press. ISBN 0-472-11337-2, $27.) Edward Rulloff thought that he was a genius, and so did many of those who met him, among them some of the most learned nineteenth-century Americans....
The Hidden Language of Baseball: How Signs and Sign-Stealing Have Influenced the Course of Our National Pastime
Paul Dickson. (230 pages. 2003. Walker & Company. ISBN 0802713920. $22.) Once it became clear, back in its nascent days, that baseball had evolved from a "gentlemen's game" to a rough-and-tumble, win-at-all-costs competition, overt attempts...
Tom Pearce, Tom Pearce, Lend Me Your Good Ear
Tom Pearce, Tom Pearce, lend me your grey mare, All along, down along, out along, lee, For I want for to go to Widecombe Fair, Wi' Bill Brewer, Jan Stewer, Peter Gurney, Peter Davy, Dan'l Widdon, Harry Hawke, Old Uncle Tom Cobley...
You've Got Game
One of the joys of being a word person is converting others to word-personhood. Holidays are perfect opportunities to make word-lovers out of your friends and relations through the giving of wordy presents, especially exciting word games. The following...