On the last linkfest of 2013, the Internet gave to me:
The ugliest Christmas sweater of them all: From REI, so it isn’t just hideous, “it’s packed with technical features and built to withstand decades of holiday wear.” Oh, it’s also fake.
Christmas carol grammar. On Mental Floss, Arika Okrent identifies the troll in “troll the ancient Yuletide carol” and the “yon” in “Round yon virgin.” And on Visual Thesaurus (subscription required), Erin Brenner takes on the lie/lay distinction in carols, using examples such as “Long lay the world in sin and error pining.”
Sheep counting. Stan Carey, author of the fine blog Sentence First, explains an old counting system used by shepherds in some parts of the UK. All together now: yan, tan, tethera, pethera, pimp…
A language map of Britain. From the Oxford Dictionaries blog: “In the summer of 2012, supreme language-lovers David and Hilary Crystal set off on a tour round Britain, visiting 57 sites associated with key developments in the English language.”
New reindeer names. Laura Wattenberg of the Baby Name Wizard blog offers a 21st-century update to Dasher, Dancer, Blitzen, et al: “Now, Skylar! now, Stryker! now Ryker and Jaxon! / Now, Cabot! now, Copland! now Sawyer and Paxton!”
A new stadium name. Berkeleyside reports that the field-naming rights at UC Berkeley’s Memorial Stadium sold for $18 million to Kabam, a mobile-gaming company founded by three Cal grads. It’ll still be Memorial Stadium: the naming rights cover only the field.
Up-to-date military slang. The movies always get it wrong, writes Ben Brody in the Global Post: “Soldiers fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have developed an expansive new military vocabulary, taking elements from popular culture as well as the doublespeak of the military industrial complex.” It’s “bird,” not “chopper,” and an “oxygen thief” is a useless soldier. Hat tip: Ben Zimmer and Kevin Grant. (Bonus link: my 2007 post about Iraq war slang.)
Much doge. Wow. Psychologist and language columnist Jessica Love writes in The American Scholar about “the delicate dance between humor and inscrutability” in two Internet memes, doge and because + noun. If you haven’t yet become acquainted with doge, here’s a best-of-gallery. (Hat tip: Angus Grieve-Smith.) Wondering how to pronounce “doge”? Slate interviewed several experts and then let the Internet decide. “Wow. Such confused” polled a strong third.
Image via Slate.
Fifty shades of blue. Can you discern the difference between LinkedIn blue and Disqus blue? IBM blue and Evomail blue? Test your powers of perception at Name That Blue, then graduate to pinks, reds, purples, greens, and a whole lot of tech companies you’ve never heard of.
Helvetica the perfume. “We have created the ultimate Modernist perfume – a scent distilled down to only the purest and most essential elements to allow you, the content, to convey your message with the utmost clarity.” Translation: for $62, not including tax and shipping, you get distilled water in a clear bottle with a label.
“For those who dare to be the same.” Image via AdFreak.
Hideous holiday music. I note with sadness the passing in 2013 of Jim Nayder, curator of Chicago Public Radio’s Annoying Music show (frequently heard on NPR); and of Regretsy (“Where DIY Meets WTF”), the blog that compiled the very worst of Etsy craft projects. But there’s hope for both camps of mourners: the multitalented April Winchell, who ran Regretsy for four years (posting as Helen Killer), can still be found on her eponymous blog. And in an effort that would do Jim Nayder proud, she’s compiled her own catalog of wretched holiday tunes, from “Homo Christmas” (by Pansy Division) to the Bethlehem Rap, from “I Yust Go Nuts on Christmas” and “Yingle Bells” by that great, great faux-Swedish entertainer Yogi Yorgesson (né Harry Stewart) to the world’s worst version of “O Holy Night.”
And speaking of holiday traditions, watch this space for my annual Festivus Airing of Grievances, coming later this week.